Horror Book Review: Dark Passenger by Donald Allen Kirch

Horror Book Review

Egyptian mummy with severed head on the Titanic
Dark Passenger
Author: Donald Allen Kirch
Publication Date: April 17, 2017
Publisher: Why Not??? Publications
Genres: Horror

How do you improve on the hubris of the Titanic and the horror of its sinking? Well, if you're Donald Allen Kirch, you weave in the hubris of early twentieth-century tomb raiders and the horror of cursed mummies. Considering Robert D. Ballard's early 80s search for the lost ship overlapped with my own discovery of Indiana Jones, it kind of feels like Dark Passenger was written for me.

The clash between science and magic, human greed and inhuman curses, is explored perfectly, accentuated by the clash between the idle rich and the working poor. The Titanic's sinking is more than enough to carry a story, especially with the question of cutting corners and putting spectacle ahead of safety, but the addition of a murderous mummy who's desperate to sink the ship before it can fall off the edge of the world adds laces foreboding with dread.

With the fact of the sinking inevitable, you might wonder how there could be any genuine drama or mystery to the story, but Kirch keeps us guessing as to the how and why of it all. Dark Passenger is a fast-paced thriller with just enough supernatural horror beneath the human drama to keep it exciting, without pushing it too far into the realm of the unbelievable. In fact, Mister Andrews' quest to discover all the ways his safety precautions were ignored, shorting the ship on everything from light fixtures to rivets, is one of the more interesting aspects of the story, especially as it overlaps Ka-Re's quest to curse the maiden voyage.

Although I would like to have spent a little more time with Professor Parker excavating the tomb at the start, and wish he'd spent a little more time in Ka-Re's embrace at the end, those are really my only complaints about the book. In between, I loved the dynamic of Captain Smith and his crew, the folly of Ismay and his arrogance, and the dogged detective work of Inspector Cotts. The moments of violence are spaced nicely, effective in their brutality, and the actual sinking of the Titanic is captured beautifully. Definitely recommended.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.