The Painted Darkness
- Author: Brian James Freeman
- Artist: Jill Bauman (interiors)
- Page Count: 175
- Pub. Date: December 21, 2010
- ISBN: 978-1-58767-208-8
- Status: Out of Print
The Painted Darkness
by Brian James Freeman
Featuring an exclusive introduction by Brian Keene and interior illustrations by Jill Bauman
About the Book:
When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his terror by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually, Henry's mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.
Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son, and life couldn't be better... except there's something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There's something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.
A winter storm is brewing, and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child — and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.
But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him... or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?
Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief — and what happens when we're finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well.
Update for Collectors:
The signed Limited Edition sold out within 24 hours of being officially announced, and the first printing of the trade hardcover sold out the day it was published.
Brian James Freeman's short stories, essays, novellas, and novels have been published by Warner Books, Leisure, Cemetery Dance, Borderlands Press, Book-of-the-Month Club, and many others.
His short fiction has appeared in From the Borderlands, Borderlands 5, Shivers, Shivers II, Shivers III, Shivers IV, Shivers V, Shivers VI, Corpse Blossoms, and many other magazines and anthologies. His essays, columns, and interviews have appeared in The Stephen King Library Desk Calendar series from Book-of-the-Month Club, Jobs in Hell, Hellnotes, and Cemetery Dance.
Visit him on the web at www.BrianJamesFreeman.com
"The tone and building dread reminds me of classic Stephen King. Great velocity and impact, and super creepy. Don't go in the basement!"
— Stewart O'Nan, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Country and A Prayer for the Dying
"Brian James Freeman's evocative tale about the dark corners of an artist's imagination is elegant and haunting. This beautifully designed book with splendid illustrations by Jill Bauman is a pleasure to read and a joy to hold."
— David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Shimmer
— Richard Matheson, New York Times bestselling author of What Dreams May Come and I Am Legend
"The Painted Darkness is a dark, terrifying, and deeply moving gem of a novella. Brian James Freeman managed to both scare me and move me to tears."
— Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Keepsake and Harvest
"Wonderfully reminiscent of the quiet horror of Charles L. Grant, The Painted Darkness takes readers on a gently chilly walk through the forest of fears both conscious and subconscious. With Straubian lyricism, Brian James Freeman evokes not only the irrational terrors of childhood, but addresses the roots of creativity and the vital importance of art. A very impressive achievement."
— Bentley Little, author of The House and His Father's Son
"The Painted Darkness delves into territory that fascinates so many of us — the fine lines between beauty and horror, faith and fear, art and the unconscious. Both a wonderful allegory and a gripping read, Brian James Freeman has written a taut, memorable tale."
— Michael Koryta, award-winning author of So Cold the River and The Cypress House
"Fast-paced, satisfying horror... a compelling read thanks to skillfully composed prose that builds tension and evokes emotional response. The paper edition includes several eerie full-page b&w illustrations by Jill Bauman."
— Publishers Weekly
"Lovingly written and lovingly packaged, this slim novella (a scant 175 pages) manages to make poignant observations about art, imagination and even love — all while scaring the standing water out of us... The fears Freeman marshals here are both familiar and primal — a deep woods and a dark cellar — but his inviting prose and inventive imagery bring fresh perspectives to them, while propelling us as each section progresses. We also get a glimpse at how such fears influence the evasive concept of artistic inspiration and creation. And this then leads into the inevitable question of whether Henry's art — his painting 'against the darkness' — keeps his demons buried or slowly invites them into his life. Jill Bauman’s wonderfully haunting and effective grayscale illustrations and Brian Keene’s introduction (reigniting the debate of art vs. entertainment) contribute to this being one of the more satisfying and fulfilling horror stories you’re likely to read this year."
— Alan Cranis, Bookgasm.com
"It's an ambitious piece of storytelling that delves not only into the mysterious act of creation itself — something that many in Freeman's audience will be able to relate to — to something we can all relate to: the crippling power of childhood fears. The fact that it does all this in quiet, understated tones reminiscent of the likes of Charles L. Grant makes it all the more amazing, moving and powerful... In The Painted Darkness, Freeman is doing far more than telling a scary story (although he is telling a scary story, and doing it quite well). He's looking at the questions that all artists are frequently asked... The Painted Darkness is a quick read, but it’s one that sinks in and stays with you for a while. Artists will have a special appreciation for Freeman’s views on the nature of creation, but anyone who has an appreciation for the work that artists do — not to mention the appreciation of a good old-fashioned spook story — will enjoy this book."
— Blu Gilliand, Dark Scribe Magazine
"Simply put, The Painted Darkness is one of those rare novellas that offers more than your standard genre novel; it's a study of one man's battle with his imagination, how it has harmed and also helped him. It displays fears that all adults harbor, and builds tension slowly but surely... Do yourself a favor and check this one out. Jill Bauman provides some fantastic interior artwork, and Brian Keene offers a brief introduction that'll psyche any reader up."
— Nick Cato, The Horror Fiction Review
"The Painted Darkness is one of the best stories I’ve read this year... We all have childhood demons of one kind or another and this story really struck a chord with me. Mr. Freeman takes you on a journey that is both dark and uplifting. This story will scare the hell out of you and also bring a tear to your eyes."
— Peter Schwotzer, Famous Monsters Of Filmland
"Freeman has written a memorable tale of how our fears contribute to our creativity and what can happen if we wait too long to confront them. It is a touching and terrifying novel that will make an impression that will definitely last."
— Barry Hunter, The Baryon Review
"Quite possibly one of the darkest, most beautifully written books I've seen this year."
— Paperback Horror
"...a stunning example of how a skilled writer can make just a few hours in a character’s life and leave readers spellbound... Freeman is a gifted writer. His descriptions vivid, the horror lurking in the shadows he creates unsettling, the novella is carefully crafted like Henry’s paintings... This story is not designed to make you jump, the horror here is subtle like the prose of a master like Poe or Hawthorne. It lingers long after you are done reading. Highly recommended, this ranks with some of the best literary thrillers I have read."
— The Horror Review
"This book... is not to be missed. A well-written suspense tale that will frighten and touch."
— Stillwater Public Library Newsletter, August 2010
"His writing oozes with classic Stephen King style. Brian’s pacing and storytelling were spot-on, invoking a sense of fear and chills as I read, and in the end he took me by surprise with a refreshing twist."
— Daniel S. Boucher, The Novel Blog
Published in four states:
• eBook With Exclusive Afterword ($2.99)
• Trade Hardcover Edition with full color dust jacket ($19.99)
• Slipcased Hardcover Limited Edition of 750 signed (by Brian James Freeman and Brian Keene) and numbered copies bound in full-cloth and Smyth sewn with a tipped-in frontispiece ($75)
• Traycased Hardcover Lettered Edition of 26 signed (by Brian James Freeman, Brian Keene, and Jill Bauman) and lettered copies bound in leather and Smyth sewn with a satin ribbon page marker and a different frontispiece ($175)