Penultimate

The Dark Before the End: A Repairman Jack Novel by F. Paul Wilson (2011): One of the good things about the Repairman Jack series (which overlaps with the accompanying Adversary Cycle) is that one can pick it up well into the overall narrative and nonetheless be engaged by the goings-on. Even so, this is really The Empire Strikes Back of the series: it doesn’t exactly have an ending, it just ends.

The ragtag group that opposes Rasalom (aka the Adversary) seems to have found a way to stop the apocalypse from occurring. And they’d better. If Rasalom’s millennia-long plans come to fruition, Earth will be overrun by an inimical reality called the Otherness. That is so not good.

The plot hangs together, though things do get a bit touchy towards the end of the novel, and a certain amount rests on a slight bit of the old Idiot Plot formula, in which people do a stupid thing. Wilson’s major characters are likeable, which makes the fate of some of them a bit hard to take. Wilson’s peculiar and distinctive mix of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and thriller fiction goes down smoothly. Action Cthulhu!

It might be fairer from a packaging standpoint to combine this novel and the following Nightworld into one text, though I don’t think Wilson will do so. After 30 years and more than 20 novels, his work seems to finally be almost done. Though three Repairman Jack prequels are promised in the afterword, so who knows? Recommended, though really only if you’ve read at least a couple of the previous Repairman Jack novels.

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