The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim
By Mark Palm
*** Three out of five stars
One of the things that I enjoy the most about reading fiction is that it gives you a chance to step into another world, different from your own, that lets you experience a myriad of emotions without changing your own reality. I have often wished that these other worlds were real so I could enjoy their wonders, and I know countless others feel the same way. Innumerable people wish they could attend Hogwarts, or live in Hobbiton. Would you feel the same way, however, if Voldemort had killed your parents, or if the Nazgul were hounding you?
That is the essential premise of The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim, by Shane Peacock.
Edgar Brim is a sensitive young boy who seems to fear everything, even the scary stories that his father secretly reads at night, which somehow give him night terrors, even though he cannot hear them. After the sudden death of his father, Edgar’s guardian, the stern Mr. Thorne, takes the typical Victorian tack and decides to toughen up the boy by sending him to a boarding school on the Scottish moors that he discovered while going through Edgar’s father's papers. Once there, Edgar meets two people who will forever affect and change his life; Professor Lear, and a student, Tiger Terry, (whom by, the way, absolutely steals the book.) This pair helps Edgar to find inner strength and determination, and most importantly help him come to understand the nature of his “gift” I am kind of stinting on the details here, but I am avoiding spoilers that give the plot much of its power. I can say that as Edgar grows into a young man he is made aware of an organization that believes that fictional “Monsters”, such as Frankenstein’s creation, and Dracula, actually exist and that the fictional versions are based on real beings. From there it’s just a small step and the three find themselves, along with Lear’s grandchildren, Jonathan and Lucy. (hmm…), hurtling around the British Isles searching from information and weapons to help them take down whatever it is they are hunting. The plot finally finds them investigating fledgling author Bram Stoker, who has yet to write his seminal work, and the infamous actor for whom he works, Henry Irving.
All of the ingredients are here for an exceptional novel, but Mr. Peacock doesn't quite take it to the next level. The atmosphere and settings are spot on, and there is a subtle creepiness that pervades the book. The prose is solid, but the plot is a bit uneven, particularly near the end. The ending, in fact, is a flat-out cliffhanger that reads as if a huge novel was sliced in two right in the middle. As I said earlier, Tiger Terry leaps off of the page, so I know Mr. Peacock understands characters, but Edgar and the rest are serviceable without being notable. I liked this book and am recommending that you give it a shot, but with a tweak here and there I think that Mr. Peacock really could have had a blockbuster on his hands.