THE DARK NET BY BENJAMIN PERCY

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

August 1, 2017

 

Change or die.

Everything gets updated.

We don’t do it that way anymore.

We’ve all heard this before. Who remembers phone numbers anymore? Not me. They’re all in my phone. Remember calling a number for the weather report? Not anymore. There’s an app for that. And for banking. And for checking in for your flight to visit your Aunt May. And so on. And so on. But some things never change. Being a good person. Taking care of your family. Protecting the world from the forces of Darkness.

Benjamin Percy, author of the stunning RED MOON as well as GREEN ARROW and TEEN TITANS for DC Comics, now gives us the eternal battle of Light vs Darkness in THE DARK NET. Unfortunately for the people of Portland, Oregon, that battle is being fought in the streets of their very own Pearl District. At first glance, I was expecting a techno-thriller with supernatural overtones. But Percy gives us the reverse. This is a heavy duty supernatural thriller, with the tech aspects thrown in for logical creative updates. These disparate concepts fit together like pieces of a gruesome apocalyptic puzzle.

THE DARK NET is the story of a reporter named Lela, a self-described Luddite who ironically enough lives only in the present, but strangely has no time or interest in modern technology. She doesn’t read her email, she takes notes on scratch pads, and uses an antique flip phone. While investigating a real-estate purchase involving the site of Portland’s most famous serial killer, Lela discovers a hidden gravesite and eventually makes off with a monstrous, misshapen skull.

Lela’s 12 year old niece Hannah has been gifted with a modern marvel: a device called the Mirage which plugs into a port behind Hannah’s ear and lets her see through the visor she wears. Hannah can now see the world around her. But she is now able to see things that are not of this world as well.

Mike Juniper owns and operates the Weary Traveler, one of the homeless shelters in Portland. Juniper is the only one who has any idea of what is coming, of the scope of the danger the world is facing. And how long this battle has really been going on. Together, they must stop the incursion of demonic forces from the Dark Net and into the physical world. They are the only ones who can stop the forces of evil from conquering the world.

Percy’s greatest strength- and he has many- has always been his world building. In RED MOON he built an expansive “alternate now” world where he used werewolves as an allegory for the Civil Rights Movement. In THE DEAD LANDS, he recasts the Lewis and Clark expedition in a cataclysmic future America. These are not small stories. Indeed, these two novels are daunting in scope as well as page count. But here, Percy gives us a sizable cast of characters, extensive backstory, drama, tons of action, as well a logical blending of arcane evil with modern-day technology in a much more manageable volume. It’s an incredible feat, and it shows the skill that Percy possesses as a storyteller.

Those who only know of Percy’s work through his meteoric success in comic books will find THE DARK NET to be the perfect crossover work to his novels. Action packed, fast-paced, and incredibly imaginative, THE DARK NET is yet another feather in Benjamin Percy’s cap.

 

Dan Malmon