Dark Night of the Soul is a real gem. E.M Haven has used magical
realism to examine suicide and the issues that surround it, and like all the very
best indies, it’s a completely unique voice that explores its theme in a brave
Seventeen year old Jayden commits suicide and finds herself in a kind of
purgatory where teams of people who have committed suicide protect other
suicidal souls from the demons that whisper in their ears and incite them to
suicide. Life in this purgatory is a series of battles, if they defeat the demons,
the person lives, if they lose, the person succeeds in their quest for death and
their soul joins the team. When a new member arrives, the Judgement- a kind
of sparkly storm cloud- comes for another. If it’s you it comes for, you’ll meet a
statue of yourself and you can either submit to the judgement or fight to keep
the demons off your statue/soul. If the judgment takes you, you’ll either move
on to the next realm, or you’ll go back to your life. It’s a second chance. It’s
difficult to explain and it’s bizarre, but it works.
Havens takes us through a series of events in which Jayden grows as
a person.This isn’t a story you can say much about without blowing the
intricacies, surprises and beautiful ending. What I can say, though, is that I
didn’t want to put it down.
The author skilfully revealed the details of the world and the character’s lives
as the story progressed, so that there was always something new to learn and
a different angle to take on what we’d already seen. A romance blossoms as
well, one with a bitter sweet flavour because it apparently has little chance
of long term success. The environment is surreal, taking the group of demon
slayers through various terrain and a wide variety of accommodations
provided by ‘Him’. Is he God? No one knows. One powerful image is of a
Wal-mart in the middle of a desert where the manager uses televisions to
show Jayden the options the suicides don’t see due to their tunnel vision.
That’s when she learns why they fight to keep the demons from luring people
to their death.
Though the subject is suicide, this is not a sad or depressing book; it’s a great
tale with layers of meaning. Though it appears as a fantasy, everything is a
vehicle for insight making it more precisely metaphysical fiction and magical
It’s simply but effectively written and warrants 5 stars once an issue of
formatting has been corrected.
“Is it Heaven.”
“No.” He looked down at me in awe, a smile gracing his burnt and peeling
lips. “Better. It’s Wal-mart.”