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Firefly Rain
Richard Dansky
Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, 375 pages

Firefly Rain
Richard Dansky
In addition to writing, Richard Dansky is a professional videogame writer and designer. As the "Manager of Design" for Red Storm Entertainment and "Central Clancy Writer" for Ubisoft he wrote and developed the Tom Clancy series of videogames. He has also designed roleplaying games, including Wraith: the Oblivion and Orpheus for White Wolf's World of Darkness. Dansky published four media tie-in novels for White Wolf's Exalted. Firefly Rain is his first original novel. Richard Dansky lives in North Carolina.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Kit O'Connell

Firefly Rain is a slow burn. The novel begins normally enough -- Jacob Logan returns to his rural family home after his business collapses. He has been away for years, and lost his country ways; the townspeople, including the old family friend he left in charge of the house, react with hostility to his metropolitan behavior. As Jacob attempts to relax and find himself, he instead finds mysteries -- starting with the discovery that fireflies would literally rather die than come onto his property.

Neither a small town full of secrets nor a man uncovering the darkness in his own family history are ground-breaking themes in horror. I even caught myself wondering at one point if, à la Stephen King, the main character might secretly be a writer down on his luck. In truth, one of the weaknesses of the novel is that Jacob's Boston life feels a little ill-defined. On the other hand, Firefly Rain isn't about Jacob in the big city, but about his roots in the town of Maryfield, and in the Logan homestead. And Richard Dansky deftly uses the oft-visited themes of this novel to create a story about past and promises that is both engaging and quite creepy.

I found myself having a 'don't go in the basement'-style reaction out of concern for the characters in Chapter 7. Jacob calls up an old employee and possible love interest, Jenna, and asks her to come help him cope with the strange things that have been happening to him. By this point, he has seen enough to know something isn't right, just enough for both the protagonist and the reader to be worried. The relationship between Jenna and Jacob is instantly believable and I was genuinely concerned for her well-being the moment she came on the scene.

Page by page, Dansky builds the tension. This is not a horror novel with much gore or many appearances by the overtly supernatural. Instead it slowly layers on just enough fear, just enough confusion, and just enough weirdness to keep you reading. The end, when it comes, falls quite neatly into place and left this reader chilled.

I first became familiar with Richard Danksy as a fan of the Wraith: the Oblivion roleplaying game line which he developed for White Wolf. Wraith was heavily psychological, using the classic horror themes of death and the undead to shine a spotlight on human motivations and human frailty. This novel explores some of the same themes and it pleases me to learn that Dansky's talents come through just as clearly in prose as they did in RPG's.

Though the individual elements of this book may not be new, Dansky weaves them into something unique through the power of his writer's voice. Firefly Rain is a first novel from an author who has already honed his storytelling skills in other fields, and it shows here. This book is both a quick, enjoyable read and the first sign of a new talent in the genre. I can only anticipate what Dansky will achieve when he strikes out for new ground.

Copyright © 2008 Kit O'Connell

Kit O'Connell
Kit O'Connell is a writer and bookseller and Voluptuary living in College Station, Texas. His poetry will appear in Aberrant Dreams in 2008. He can be found online at approximately 8,000 words, his homepage, and Words Words Words, the Dream Café weblog.

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