Short Story Review: Chapel Point from Dark Waters by Dale Drake

It was only on a whim I downloaded a sample from Dark Waters by Dale Drake. Our conversation started from a post on social media about my current read – Necroscope by Brian Lumley. He joked about recommending a book called Dark Waters by Dale Drake – how it had sold 1000s of copies and was available across all formats from all good bookstores.

At first I thought nothing more of it. But I was rapidly losing interest with the film on TV and, once I clocked on to Drake’s humour, I thought why not give it a try.

The story centres around the mysterious suicides where dead bodies are found on the foreshore at the bottom of Chapel Point cliff. Each one leaving a farewell note pinned to a tree.

Suicide is, of course, a serious issue, but a familiar topic in the horror genre. However, this self-published offering is by no means a depressing or an insensitive story. In fact, I was surprisingly taken aback by how good it was.

The story begins with Mancuinian Tom – a writer who recently relocated to the Cornish coast in search of a quieter life. Out for a pint in a local pub, he falls into conversation with Old Joe. They discuss yet another reported death in the newspaper.

Having stumbled across a potential story, Tom hopes this chance meeting will insprire one last piece for an anthology of horror stories his publisher is chasing him for.

Drake’s beautifully crafted prose has a natural rhythm that reads with ease and fluidity. His worldbuilding techniques not only use well-balanced descriptions, tapping into the use of all the senses; but he also and, very cleverly, makes use of the character – Old Joe.

Joe’s colloquialism and turn of phrase is spot on. You really get a feel through Tom becoming familiar with his new surroundings as old Joe elaborates the story. Drake peppers his dialogue with well-placed and realistic humour, deceitfully putting the reader at ease and drawing us in to liking the characters.

As the tale moves along, we’re taken along the Cornish coast where we also find out more about Tom. While we’re distracted by his thoughts and hopes and dreams, Drake makes use of the surroundings to surreptitiously introduce the sense of impending doom, utilising the senses to tease out Tom’s fears.

Chapel Point is a brilliant read and I highly recommend it. I’m pleased I took a chance. It’s one of those stories where you are taken on a journey and, as the phrase goes, led up the garden path by a well-crafted piece.

Drake has taken good care in writing this story. It’s not only very well-written, but I also get the sense that he’s taken the time to edit and refine his work – a crucial step in the self-publishing process.

Chapel Point is a dark pleasure to read. And I look forward to the rest of the stories in the Dark Water collection.

4 out of 5 stars.

Dark Water by Dale Drake is available on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in Paperback format.

(c) 2019 Mark Young.

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