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Solid, exciting zombie story.

By Deadpansmirk, author of Desert Steel

Jan 18, 2016: Disclaimer: This review is part of a review swap. As always, I did my best to stay impartial.

Don’t Feed The Dark is a zombie story. And it’s a darn good one. The opening chapter is riveting and engaging. The characters introduced are interesting and fleshed out, meaning when all hell breaks loose, and it sure does, you already care about who lives and who dies. Which brings me to what I would consider Don’t Feed the Dark’s greatest strength: it’s characters. Making a character flawed, unique, human and interesting can be a tough task. To do it over and over again with a diverse cast- that’s amazing. Every four chapters or so the perspective switches, to a new character. It could easily have broken the story, making it a hard slog as the zombie apocalypse happens over and over again. That Scott Scherr, the author, manages to avoid this is seriously impressive. Each perspective switch he has to introduce the character, flesh them out, and then dump them into the apocalypse, all while keeping the narrative fresh and gripping. It’s such that I can’t pick a favourite, or even tell you who the main character is. They all steal the show when it’s their turn.

To talk of flaws in the story, one can actually talk about characters again. I would be willing to level the accusation that nearly all of them fall into some cliché. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. A cliché is bad when the author uses it as a crutch for a flat character, letting the thousands of other characters just like it to fill any holes or undeveloped areas. As the paragraph above indicates, this isn’t the case.

Otherwise, the only other issue isn’t a flaw at all: Don’t Feed the Dark is a zombie story. It has gore, and violence and death. So if you don’t like zombie stories, Don’t Feed the Dark isn’t going to change that. But if you like zombie stories, you’ll love this. And if you don’t care either way, Don’t Feed the Dark might be worth looking into. It’s at the top of its genre.

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The Darkness Within Demands to Be Fed

By SovereignofAshes, author of The Vorrgistadt Saga

Jul 12, 2018: Disclaimer: This review was written as part of a review swap. This review will also focus exclusively on the first book of the on-going series.

First Impressions: I usually like to mention other stories, movies, or video games that flow within the same vein as the work I’m reviewing with this section, but I’m going to have to throw a wrench into this right now. With a story focusing on survival horror in a zombie apocalypse, most would expect the compulsory The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, or one of the many works of the late George A. Romero to be mentioned but I’m going to have to disappoint you right now. I’ll state the ones I feel are appropriate now and through my explorations below you might find out why I chose these: Silent Hill 2, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Shining.

Content: Right at the beginning of the story we are surrounded in the dark atmosphere that will be clawing and chasing after us for the remainder of our shortened lives. A gliding, moonlit tour of a little Ohio town seeping with sin whilst having turned its back on the edifices of higher morality. This sleepy little collection of souls, not just in this town but throughout the state, are just like any other collection of souls throughout America; those carbon copies of everyone you pass by during your daily grind. Behind vain protestations of righteousness, the desire to cloak themselves in mundanity, and drunk to the gills on tiny perversions, these people are just like so many others.

Beneath a rusted October-moon, we are introduced to the first of the characters we will be following throughout this twisted and macabre tale. Nothing is held back as we are deposited into the mind of Russell, a self-styled saviour of damned souls who redeems with sharpened blades and bodily violations. From this first meeting with our depraved protagonist, the story doesn’t let up one bit. No punches are pulled as the fevered pitch of madness reaches a boiling point, then breaks through to whole new levels. The first character we get to skin-ride may be a predator, but when push comes to shove it is his own pragmatic self-importance that saves him from a fate worse than death. A choice we will become more familiar with as the story goes on.

In rapid succession we are introduced to several other characters that fill out the cast. We will get to stare directly into the face of viciousness behind the eyes of Gina; a talented stripper—tough-as-nails—whose desire to get out of the flesh-dealing trade makes her bite off more than she can chew. Stephen, a teacher who doesn’t just like to mould young minds but also steal their innocence, as well. Amanda, a spotty-drunk who indulges in far-too-many poor life choices. Finally, we are introduced to Charlie, an ex-con whose inflated sense of ethics brings him to take things way too far.

From the first moment we are introduced to a blood-thirsty serial killer the storytelling of this story is top-notch. The simple fact that the author can turn an otherwise repugnant personality into a character we start to root for within the first chapter proves the talent behind the words.

At first blush, the corrupted and infested antagonists of this tale seem like so many other of the undead. The first few twists that are apparent are that not all of the corrupted are mindless, animated cadavers. These zombies have a predatory instinct and depending on what is left of their bodies they can be both relentless shamblers and fast-paced killing machines. More than that, as hinted at both in the title and what we come to see through the horror-filled eyes of Gina, the source of this outbreak may not be what we’ve come to expect from most outbreak tales.

What if the vector of the outbreak isn’t some contamination from without, but a contamination from within? What if what separates us from the predatory dead is a simple choice whether or not to indulge the monstrous darkness that lurks within all of us? What if you had to exist in a world turned to a living hell by the bad choices of others, while always having to exist one bad choice away from losing your own very humanity? What if there was a final judgment for us all, not from some celestial or infernal figure but through the very sin that oozes out of our very minds? This is the ultimate shadow that looms in the darkness of this morality-play. Each of the characters in this story is tainted to the core, but something sets them apart from the rest, at least for now. How much longer until they submit like all the rest to the ravenous darkness that demands to be fed inside?

Particulars: This story is currently up to five books released on-line, so far, and the sixth is in the works. Books one, two, and three have been released in paperback form through Amazon. There are audio readings of the story available on-line. As such, this story has been through several revisions and is formally edited. I can’t complain one bit about the grammar, spelling, nor the content.

As mentioned above, this story is dark and doesn’t hold any punches as it explores the darkest parts of the human condition. For some this may be a godsend and for others it may touch uncomfortably upon things in ones past. The mature content that is present in the story are each done tastefully and nothing is trampled into haphazardly. If you can get through the second chapter, you can get through the rest of the story. Despite whatever negative situations may befall the characters—or that they may cause due to their own follies—it is always important to understand the larger morality-play that is going on within the story.

Conclusion: I don’t mention this easily, but Don’t Feed the Dark is both a masterpiece and something revolutionary for the darker side of web fiction. The storytelling is top-notch and surprising with its numerous twists and turns. The author has been committed to telling this tale for almost a decade with regular weekly updates and for that perseverance they must be whole-heartedly commended. I’ve always been a fan of the horror genre and I feel that this story is one of the best out there.

I’ve followed Don’t Feed the Dark for two years now and will continue to do so into the future. If you haven’t tried this story yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. If you have tried it out before, you need to turn off the lights in your house, lock and barricade your doors, then give it another shot to get caught up to the latest releases. Remember how to deal with the festering dead, a second shot to the brain-case is always needed.

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Walking Dead meets Sin City

By Team Contract, member

Sep 6, 2016: Don’t Feed the Dark is a zombie apocalypse story and by any measure a very good one. The prose and dialogue is well written, the pacing fast and the atmosphere is creepy and spot on. However, to only define it as such does not do justice to the great story being told by Scott Scherr.

The real hook of this tale are the point of view characters. Scherr not only tells a horrifically graphic and gory zombie thriller, but through the eyes of the most broken and unlikely people possible. To not give too much away, there is a Dexter like serial killer, a stripper, an adulterer and an alcoholic mother. Each of these characters are very real and paint the world as such, warts and all, which makes the zombie attacks all the more frightening and realistic when they occur.

And, not only are these characters broken in every which way, but we’re introduced to them on the worse day of their lives and I’m not even talking about the zombie attack. Scherr’s skill in pulling off these types of characters is the immense amount of humanity he brings to each of them, with redeeming qualities that make you sympathetic to them, even at the height of their bad behavior. Its this mix of throwing characters that would be interesting in their own right and then forcing them into this nightmare scenario that sets this story apart.

If you’re a fan of gritty realism and heart pounding horror (and aren’t too squeamish!) Don’t Feed the Dark will be a must read for you.

EDIT: After reading through the first book I’m changing my review from 4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars. This story is a page turner like none other. The more I read the better it gets. If you are a fan of survival horror, start reading this now! But I warn you, be prepared for sleepless nights!

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