Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Dark on the Other Side by Barbara Michaels

cover of The Dark on the Other Side by Barbara Michaels
Barbara Michaels’ The Dark on the Other Side is an interesting book. The story is told by two narrators. At times, we hear from Linda Randolph, wife of the charismatic Gordon Randolph, and at others, we hear for Michael Collins, who is to write a book about Gordon. Linda Randolph is troubled, alcoholic, and a potential danger to herself and her husband. Why? It seems that Linda is troubled by visions of a black dog, and that the visions are making her want to murder her husband. As Michael starts to research Gordon’s past, he finds that Gordon is a bit of an enigma. Gordon has had great success in writing (only one critically acclaimed book) and politics. Even though Michael’s father taught Gordon at college, Michael can’t remember his father showing great interest in Gordon. After traveling to the college where Gordon taught, and married Linda, Michael starts to notice that there seems to be a trail of people in Gordon’s wake who either committed suicide or fell into serious issues with drug abuse. Could Gordon have somehow influenced the people in a negative way? What is the meaning of the black dog that Linda sees? Is there some supernatural element at hand, or is it just the psychotic delusions of an alcoholic?

I have to admit that the switch in voices threw me at the beginning of the book. I was trying to figure out what was going on, and who was the main protagonist of the book. Well, there isn’t one protagonist; there are two. Michaels turns from ghosts to a different type of woo-woo: demonic powers. As I was reading, I started to agree with the protagonists that Gordon is a demonic force, but then the voice of reason, in Galen Rosenberg, made me wonder if it was just a collective hallucination brought on my psychosis. The end of the book is satisfying. Good triumphs over evil. The end was especially satisfying because I read it while a strong thunderstorm was providing suitable background music. The book isn’t the strongest of the Michaels’ books, but I enjoyed it.

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