The Dark

image

Written by
Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, each including some funny yet dark dedications, like this one;

For Beatrice
No one could extinguish my love,
Or your house.

Also, when asked to describe his personal philosophy replied ‘Never refuse a breath mint’.

Illustrated by
Jon Klassen
Illustrator, animator, writer, Candian, man. Most known for his award winning ‘This is not my hat’ (which is better than it sounds). He also digs Cormac McCarthy, which is always a strong sign in my book.

Summary
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the basement. He thinks that if he visits the dark in the dark’s room then it won’t visit him in his. This doesn’t exactly happen but Lazlo nonetheless reaches resolve and understanding of the dark, so that living with it isn’t so bad.

What makes it shelf-worthy?

Without specific examples, I feel like I’ve seen several bad attempts at ‘fear of the dark’ remedies. Sometimes it’s a banished monster in the closet, sometimes a depiction of darkness as something completely trivial. Either way, it turns out as something unrelatable or proof that there was a monster in your room after all, and who’s to say it’s not coming back? Children aside, these books always have a grate of cliché which I just can’t hack.

The Dark is different from these. While it makes The Dark into a person, it otherwise refers to it in literal terms; as ‘at night…it spread itself against the windows and doors of Laszlo’s house’.
Instead of giving a story where darkness is something to be defeated, it concedes that darkness is a part of life and is ‘always close by’. Snicket doesn’t attempt to get rid of the darkness (because that’s impossible), but changes its character to something friendly, even reassuring. The Dark even goes on to explain that many things that we project fear onto are actually common and functional; without a wardrobe there’s nowhere to keep your clothes, without his creaky roof Laszlo would get rained on, without a shower curtain the floor gets wet.

As you might expect, the Jon Klassen makes the most of contrast between light and dark in his illustration. He uses the bursts of orange light from torch, or window, or lamp to frame the objects and text of the book.

Again, matte finish pages with beautifully composed and coloured images make for an excellent object to own. As well as this, the words serve as a great ‘fear of the dark’ remedy and could resonate with some bigger fears than darkness if you found yourself with the time and a philosophical enough frame of mind.

The voice of the dark was as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows, and even though the dark was right next to Laszlo, the voice seemed very far away’