Review: Long Journey into Darkness by J.W.

Long Journey Into Darkness is the dark tale of love and romance between cousins that turns fatal. Very Gay, Set in England turn of the century, coming to New York to start again only to be followed by the past, finding love and ………..there is however a little stage drama, murder and more.

Review by Erastes

First, the cover. Normally I wouldn’t have the cover reflect the mark because more often than not the author has no input or little—into it. However, as this is self-published I have to say that that it’s not really at all reflective of the book. In fact, the picture I received with the Kindle version is not this picture at all–it’s of a naked man sitting on a chair with his hand over his cock. That made me think that it was gay porn not “early 20th century homosexual drama.”

I’m not sure when it was set either, I thought it was Victorian, but the cinema is up and running, and the martini had been invented so it has to be after 1912.  That being said – there’s no mention of the war, so I think there’s something very wrong with the timeline.

If only that was the only problem!

Although the cover is not at all apt, the title certainly is. Because for me this wasn’t just a (very) long (or so it seemed) journey into darkness, it was a bumbling about in absolute darkness with no clue about what the heck was going on. The beginning is so jumbled, and so riddled with errors it’s pretty incomprehensible and I had to force myself to read on.

Basically a guy called Ethan Morris is on a train going to visit his lover. He calls into a house which we assume, as he’s expecting to see this Robert there, is Robert’s house, despite the fact that we told that Robert is rolling in money and this is a poor miner’s cottage. However there’s a woman called Edna there who tells him that all the posh furniture came as gifts from Robert and she and Robert are an item. This was odd to begin with because why would he be sending gifts to her in his house? Then Ethan gets on a train goes to a posh hotel in Liverpool, signs in under the name of Robert Morris (the guy and cousin he was in love with) but sends his luggage to the boat under the name of Ethan Morris. When he’s on the boat, he’s known as Ethan Morris to everyone and tells everyone that Robert is his cousin. Then a newspaper is read (the next day) that Ethan Morris had disappeared (which is daft to begin with, who’d care that quickly about a poor teacher?) and it’s a great discussion around the boat, but the discussion is about Robert Morris who’s missing, and not Ethan, despite what the newspaper said, and despite everyone on the boat knowing him as Ethan, and him actually being on the passenger list as Ethan, when he gets to New York, people call him Robert, and he’s known as having travelled out on the ship, despite being Ethan on the ship and everyone knowing that Robert was his cousin. *draws breath *

Confused? Yeah. Me too.

Even the ship changes its name!  If you read this, prepare to be more confused because by the end, if I hadn’t been holding my Kindle, I would have hurled the book out of the window.

The thing is that the prose itself–in spots–isn’t all that bad. There are some really nice passages and the normal narrative is quite readable, but I spent so long scratching my head and wondering if it all was meant to be confusing or whether the author just didn’t bother to get anyone to check it over (guess which one is probably true) that I couldn’t enjoy the bits that were half decent. And those that were decent were marred by typos littered about like confetti, incorrect homonyms and all sorts of grammatical horrors, such as using verbs as nouns for one.

We get passages like this:

“Edna was nothing to me but an interpreters of her sex.”

Whatever that means. There are many instances of words being used in the oddest ways. And I can’t tell whether it was a typo and the author meant “interpretation” or “an interpreter “or whether they were using the word in good faith, but didn’t actually know what it meant.

Another example of this – there are many – is

“He feed the linen-coated porters and dismissed them as rapidly as possible.

Which I cannot glean the meaning of at all. No, it’s not freed. Or fed.

The sad thing is that there’s a germ of a good plot idea behind all this camouflage, but I doubt most readers would get past the first section, and the plot hole, by the time he gets to New York, is enough to throw a horse through. All the confusion would have been cleared up by “And I’ll see your passport, please.” It’s a shame, because a damned good editor would have whipped this into a more comprehensible shape.

I wish I could say it improved as it went along, but it didn’t. People start conversing to him as men and turn into women, people enter his room who promptly disappear never to be mentioned again—nothing happens for chapters except chat and going out for dinner, anything interesting happens off page—continuity errors every time Ethan opens his mouth. There’s even one very amusing typo where the author has obviously done a search and replace a character name from Price to Brice – but didn’t check each one, as the word price is also changed to Brice, which took me ages to work out what the devil sentences like “They lacked the Brice to do so” and “the Brice of creation”. I admit to a titter or two when I worked it out.

Ethan as a main character doesn’t exactly shine—and I couldn’t like him, which meant I wasn’t invested enough in him to care whether he found love and happiness or not. Not only does he kill Robert off, but he then steals his money, uncaring or not as to the plight of the factory workers who were no doubt thrown out of work when the factory foundered due to his criminal action. I was rather surprised when he proves himself to be aggressively bisexual, to be honest, because it’s tagged as “Gay Romance.”

As such it’s blatantly mis-represented because he chats up two women, actively courts one of them to the extent that she says they should get married. He never even checks men out, other than one of the porters on the boat. Gay romance my left foot.

It was at this point when something absolutely incomprehensible happened. The woman, Luella, that he had been courting since meeting her on the boat entirely disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again. Instead of which, suddenly we get some guy Simon, who had never been mentioned before (and we are about 80% of the way through at this point) who apparently Ethan had been keeping in a cabin up north of New York somewhere. All the plot points that had belonged to Luella suddenly were transferred to Simon–the most notable of which was that a multi-millionaire promised to ruin Ethan if he didn’t stop seeing Luella, and a promise to burn the theatre down.  Suddenly, when Ethan declares he wants to be with Simon forever, they acknowledge that they’ll have trouble with the multi-millionare.

It’s pretty clear that the story started either as a purely gay romance and then author half-heartedly changed it to a hetero one to get published, and then only did a half-arsed job of converting  it back. Or the other way around.  Whichever it was, it put the nail in the  coffin for the book for me, and despite the rather interesting ending I ripped off half of the solitary star that the book had already earned.

I wish I could say more good about it, because I don’t like having to be so brutally honest, but I believe that with a good edit this could have been a much much better book. But as it is, I’d have to recommend that you avoid it altogether.

Review: Soldiers:A Soldier’s Story by Allen Cross and Arius de Winter

Product description from Amazon:

Soldier – This is the story of a soldier finding himself in the time of battle, falling in love and not being able to express it. This is the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him. It is a story of odds, moral code and in the end………..?

This book is filled with sexual situations, gay illustrations, sex and one on one sexual situations. Cum join us as these soldiers find something more in the foxhole then war.

As a former soldier who found himself in battle, in love, and in a fox hole, I was blighted by the hopes that might never come, the question ‘why now, why did I find you now” and meeting death face to face. These are the expressions of hope, valor and the human side of love that can be found even in a time of war.

These are the real stories of men in battle, some fictionalized, some up-beat romance added but still the real thing, hope, valor and glory.

Review by Gerry Burnie

This short story should be dishonourably discharged from your reading list

Note: Readers should be aware that under the Kindle format, which does not specify either word or page count, some publishers are marketing short stories (some as short as a 30-minute read) with no notice that these are not novellas or full scale novels.

“Soldier: A Soldier’s Story” by Allen Cross [Amazon Digital Services] is one such example. The complete text of this slapdash effort can be read in about an hour—provided that one has an hour to waste.

The plot, such as it is, is set during WWII in the Pacific Corridor; although that can only be deduced from references to “Japs” and an “island.” The narrator Jack, a soldier, is stationed there and is befriend by two others, Matt and Simon, in the shower. Apart from the fact that Matt has a “full ten inch cock” there is very little description of these two to help the reader get a picture of them. However, “He [Matt] was clean shaved, [sic] cock, balls and all.”

The narrative and dialogue at this point are much along the same lines, i.e.

“Dude,” you ok. [sic]

I felt sick.

He [sic] was this hot guy standing in front of my [sic] with a fucking hard on and I wasn’t supposed to be looking at him like a love lost child. I’d lost total control and now, here my cock was shower dancing with his.

I thought I would explode right there on the spot.

“Hey dude, don’t worry about it, happens all the time”. [sic]

I wasn’t sure what he meant, that his cock was hard or that his and mine were touching?

Matt smiled as he looked down at my cock embrace [sic] with his. He just looked up at me and smiled.

“Hey you fucker, I’m Simon”, the man next to Matt announced. You two dick dancing or can I join.

And so forth.

As a sort of blanket caveat (apology, perhaps), the author is careful to point out that this is an “un-edited proof”—which begs at least a couple of questions: e.g. If the writing isn’t complete, why publish it? and, Does this author not realize that by publishing such shoddy workmanship he is indirectly sullying the image of every other writer who has paid good money to have his or her manuscript(s) edited? And in this regard I include Amazon Digital Services and every other publisher who markets this type of inferior pulp.

The plot then goes on to gloss over the feeble attempt at a storyline by mixing in lots of explicit, homoerotic sex. However even this is poorly handled in places. For example, the author writes that “Matt sat up, reached for my cock and began to suck my dick as I moaned softly,” but approximately two pages later, he writes, “I desperately wanted his body and his long hard cock but he was so good looking that I wasn’t sure he’d reject me or ask of me more than I was willing to give.” [Emphasis mine]. Rejection? Not two pages beforehand the guy was copping on the narrator’s dick, so it is a pretty fair bet that rejection isn’t overly likely.

Although the hype for this story strongly suggest that this is “…the story of how soldiers live, of how we, soldiers, fall in love, how the battle field opens the character to express things he never would, and except himself before death finds him” I found very few references to army life apart from some superficial, generic situations that told me almost nothing about what it was like. I do know, however, that if soldiers had copulated as openly as these are written to have done, being court-martialled would have been the least of their worries. One-half star.

Another short story of the same ilk is: “Missing Jackson Hole” by Ryan Field [Loveyoudivine Alterotica, 2010]. 149K. This story can be read in about 30 minutes; however, one must buy and download it to discover this.

Buy from Kindle

%d bloggers like this: