Dark Star by Oliver Langmead (narrated by Toby Longworth, unabridged audio book released 2017, Amazon Audible)
Introduced by Sam Obigbesan
I was searching for Noir, and I found it.
In Oliver Langmead’s Noir Sci-Fi novel, Dark Star, I found a city where light is as precious a commodity as water.
Vox is a dark city that’s filled with ghosts, those people who are addicted to light. Those who are starved and need its glow.
People trudge along their lives and some fall into the madness of the dark sun plaguing their skies.
Into this setting we meet Virgil Yorke, a washed-up cop addicted to a drug called Prometheus or colloquially known as ‘Pro’. Virgil is a hero with scars both within and out; haunted by the memory of his biggest case and the death of a loved one.
In the streets of Vox, the body of Vivian North, a murdered young woman is found. Nothing unusual about that except from the fact that her blood glows white, almost as though it is made of light.
It falls to Virgil and his partner Dante to investigate the murder, but then One of the three hearts (ancient artefacts/machines that power the city) is stolen and Virgil is called upon again, to solve the mystery and retrieve it.
To begin with I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this story, looking at the previous reviews did not fill me with confidence, but I still decided to give it a go.
And I’m glad I did.
I really loved the atmosphere the author created, noir almost in its literal sense. I felt the despair, the craving that the citizens of Vox felt for the light that was long denied them by their ineffective sun.
Somehow the novel felt as though it was both slow and fast paced.
The main character seemed to hardly get any rest and that came across quite clearly, as the hero was thrown from one perilous situation to the next.
Add to that was the poetic introspection of the character as well as the almost lyrical descriptions; reinforced the idea that the novel was both progressing at a slow and at breakneck speed.
Virgil York is a flawed hero who does not consider himself a hero.
Initially I thought that there was going to be a major character arc that would lead the protagonist to abandon his addiction, but oh how mistaken I was.
As he travelled through Vox, I travelled through Vox; as he felt the madness, I felt the madness, the yearning for the light.
Every twist and turn made me wonder further about this world. One thing I do appreciate is when an author adds little titbits of information about the world as the story progress’s. And Langmead does that all throughout.
We learn a little bit about the history of Vox, it’s inhabitants and their society.
In the end, the story came full circle leaving the reader almost spent as if returning back to mundanity.
I was fascinated by that world and haunted almost felt nostalgia for that strange world in shades of black and grey.
I would also like to add that Toby Longworth; the narrator of the audiobook did a brilliant job. His voice added that extra washed-up tiredness to the main character. It is largely because of his dark hardboiled stile of narration that I enjoyed the story as much as I did.
Somehow, he managed to make every character sound distinct without particularly changing his accent or overcompensating in the voice acting department.
This is a solid 4 (out of 5) star book for me.