In the Shadows of Children - Alan Ryker





I received a free copy of this novella (in e-book form), published by Darkfuse, from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Alan Ryker is a very good writer and the strength of his writing lies in his characters.  This novella is no exception.  It is what gives his stories their punch.  He is also one of the fine young writers producing quality dark fiction at Darkfuse.


This is the second time, from my reading, in which Ryker explores the concept of the boogieman.  The first was in Nightmare Man (also from Darkfuse) in which, interestingly, the story was centered around an adult encounter rather than the traditional childhood fear.  I recommend that novella as well as this one for a completely different take on the subject.  Actually, I recommend reading anything and everything Ryker has written.


Where was I?  Oh yes, traditional childhood fears. 


I have often thought of the source of the shadow in the closet or the thing under the bed.  We all feared them.  They were a universal of childhood.  All cultures have their equivalent.  Ryker provides insight into what he deliciously calls the “sack men.”  Remember “The Child Catcher” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?  If you have seen the movie you won’t forget him.  For generations he has reduced children to tears of fright.  But he is nothing compared to the Egyptian version that I sort of wish Ryker hadn’t told me about.  From the Child Catcher to Freddie Kruger, it has been open season on kids in their night time bedrooms.


Why?  Why does every child suffer through this fear, no matter what time period or part of the world?  Is it the parents trying to scare their children into staying in bed and doing what they are told?  Most of these stories involve “bad” or misbehaving children as is usually also the case with fairy tale encounters with monsters.  Good children are never victims.  Right? 


Are we so sure about that? 


This novella considers that we may have gotten it wrong all this time about what these creatures are and where they come from—and it is worse than we thought.