It’s not a good idea to read this novel at night.

Hell on earth is only one click of a mouse away…

The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now an ancient darkness is gathering there as well. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew:

Twelve-year-old Hannah — who has been fitted with the Mirage, a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness– wonders why she sees shadows surrounding some people.

Lela, a technophobic journalist, has stumbled upon a story nobody wants her to uncover.

Mike Juniper, a one-time child evangelist who suffers from personal and literal demons, has an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs.

And Derek, a hacker with a cause, believes himself a soldier of the Internet, part of a cyber army akin to Anonymous.

They have no idea what the Dark Net really contains.

Set in present-day Portland, The Dark Net is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.

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A brainchild between Clive Barker, Greg Bear, and Edward Lee, The Dark Net scared the hell out of me. Percy keeps at it, reinforcing this paranoid fear by doing what great horror writers of his caliber are known for: they make you believe the stories they write. If only for a moment, and that moment is more than enough. With fantastic execution, Percy slithers fragments of this horror into the reader’s subconscious, making them experience things on an imaginative level. Something you couldn’t explain. Dismiss. Ignore.

However, it would be illogical of me to keep comparing certain aspects or elements of The Dark Net to other existing work, because put simply: it is nothing like your average run of the mill sci-fi horror book. Read that again. Sci-fi horror. I don’t scour the web every two minutes or delve into the vast multitude of sub-genres (horror steampunk being a new trend you’ll be seeing soon) but I’m quite certain not many mainstream novels have quite wholly embraced horror and science fiction as a combined ingredient. Naturally you’ll find a few if you look carefully enough, then again not many would risk it for the sake of juggling two very different and yet eerily similar genres (here’s looking at you, Dead Space) in the hopes of producing something that would be an instant hit.

The Dark Net, from a technical perspective in regards to character development, plot, and motive, is perfect.

Good doesn’t always look like how you imagine it. Sometimes it cusses and wears a leather jacket and motorcycle boots and chain-smokes. Sometimes it deals a little on the side. Sometimes it kills.

I’m not going to splurge all the details, plots, and moments that occur just to pique your interest, oh no, instead I’m going to tell you what a thrill it was to read The Dark Net. Here’s an example: the protagonist, Hannah, is blind and relies on sight via the assistance of a device similar to Goggle Glass. With the Mirage strapped around her head little Hannah can fully see her mother’s strained face, her aunt Lela’s often harried expressions, and the wonders of the world.

Touching, right?

You know where this is going to end up. Hannah ends up playing a key part in this techno-ritualistic festival of demons crawling through anything with a digital screen and hell hounds click-clacking on tiled corridors. Typical character stereotypes you find anywhere in fiction, or in real life, are also present in this novel, yet Percy adds extra dimensions to them. Yeah, sure, there’s a geek in this story, but this geek doesn’t fall shy from calling his superior out on her vagrant lack of computer-related knowledge in a way you’d expect a wife to reprimand her husband for fooling around.

My conclusion for The Dark Net is thus: sci-fi horror. You can either write a great story with these two tricky elements, or you can create a total catastrophe. Percy did it wonders.

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