"Dominoes" Book Review
Written by John Boden and illustrated by Yannick Bouchard
2013, 48 pages, Fiction
Released on September 28th, 2013
Sometimes the image on the outside of a book says nothing about what lies within. At other times, the thing displayed tries to tell readers what they're in for. Lastly, in very strange cases, the cover of a book is something designed to lure readers into a trap. John Boden's Dominoes is a perfect example of a book with a cover with a secret agenda. A painting of four kids looking down with a baby blue background and the title in big white letters gives the impression that this is a typical book for children. However, thinking that is a grave mistake. Inside the pages of this short volume is a world of horror, death, eyeballs pushed into skulls, dreadful illustrations, and terrible tales told with beautiful language.
The best thing about Dominoes is that it wastes not time getting to the action, almost as if the author understood that he had to make a strong impression very quickly. And he pulls it off. From strange visions and raining maggots to murder and atrocities that become sexual, this is a narrative that's sharp, well written, and should be kept away form the reach of children. Also, while the cover speaks of easy rhymes and simple writing, the words inside would give any longer novel a run for its money and show that Boden is a writer of considerable talent:
"The sunlight gnawed the darkness, and the clouds were waiting. Huge colorful monstrosities, like Portuguese man o' war made from cotton candy. Their tentacles dragged on the pocked pavement, and caught in their fibrous netting were dead birds and newspapers, corpses and cups, and all of it oozed and dribbled as it was digested by the creatures. People craned their necks from under awnings to behold the beauty of the clouds, so colorful and tranquil in their fluidity."
Dominoes contains news reports, first-hand accounts of the beginning of the end, songs, and poems. It is a story of death, mayhem, and apocalypse. From the classic image of men hanging from trees to the story of what those kids on the cover are doing up on a bridge, nothing here is right, and that makes for a great horror read.
Usually, with a book that's great and only 48 pages, I would complain about length. However, the short narrative offered here matches that of a children's book, and does so satisfyingly. Boden's writing chops brought to mind authors like Thomas Ligotti and John Langan, and he managed to do that in a reduced space. Also, I would be remiss not to mention the great work Yannick Bouchard did with the illustrations which, without the aid of color, manage to bring Boden's words to life.
If you're looking for a scary bedtime story, check out Dominoes. Just make sure you keep it hidden from your kids.