"The Rain Dancers" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Delirium Books
Written by Greg F. Gifune
2012, 77 pages, Fiction
Released on April 29th, 2012
I often get frustrated when watching a movie or reading a book and the main character's significant other is obviously getting hit on and he doesn't do anything about it. Perhaps it's a testosterone thing, but it just bothers me to no end when a man just sits there and watches another man flirt with his woman. Maybe it's the weakness I hate, maybe it's the fact that I don't like watching someone being openly disrespected and neglecting to do anything about it or maybe I'm just not a fan of cuckolding. Whatever the case, it just flat out bothers me. And I can't remember a time when I watched (or read) this going on and the non-action was acceptable. Well, not until Greg F. Gifune's The Rain Dancers, anyway.
In The Rain Dancers, Will and Betty Colby are in the process of cleaning out her father's house to prepare it for sale when a stranger comes calling in the night. Bob Laurent claims to have been a close friend of Betty's father, but oddly she does not recognize him even though Bob seems to know an awful lot about her. As usual in these situations (both in media and in real life), Betty doesn't let on to Bob that she has no idea who he is, but hubby Will notices that she is acting rather odd around the stranger. To make matters worse for Will, Bob is openly flirting with Betty, including making sexual innuendos and rubbing his hand along her back to see if she's wearing a bra. Betty seems to pay no mind to it and accuses Bob of overreacting when he brings it up. The speed that all of this happens is surreal and it's unnerving how easily Gifune makes it seem so realistic. Will's lack of action when Bob is all but feeling up his wife is, as mentioned above, the first time in recent memory where I completely understood why a male character was doing nothing in that situation, and it wasn't because he was a pussy.
Things eventually do come to a head, and Will does step up to the plate. I suspect that there is only so much of watching your wife getting groped before you need to punch somebody. Unfortunately for Will, that Bob is a smart one and hubby ends up looking like the bad guy. Did I mention that Bob's car broke down? Yeah, he's spending the night, too. So for those keeping score: Will's wife is being felt up by some creepy old man, she's denying it, Will strikes the old man for molesting his wife, gets in trouble and Bob and Betty have a slumber party. Can it get worse? Yes. Yes, it can. And does.
There is much more evil to Bob than some run-of-the-mill sexual predator (it wouldn't be a Delirium novella if there wasn't). The second this cat is introduced, it is obvious he is up to no good. Gifune masterfully puts the unease Will has of this stranger into you as well. The author doesn't hold your hand when introducing this evil, he's much more sublime than that. Gifune sneaks up behind you and injects a needle filled with fear into your neck. You can't turn away from what happens next, even though you want to.
What makes The Rain Dancers so terrifying is how realistic it is. Obviously there is a supernatural element to Bob, but it's not one of those types where you can just put down the book and be done with it. This is one that sticks with you long after reading.
The only issue I had with the novella is the ending, it feels entirely too rushed. The abruptness of the finale is the story's only weakness. It's not even one of those situations where this would have been much better as a full on novel, but rather just ten more pages would have done it. The Rain Dancers is the type of tale that is perfect for the novella format, it's just that its ending is too hurried. Yet even with that, it's hard not to highly recommend The Rain Dancers. Hurried closing aside, it delivers a healthy amount of dread throughout and is a perfect read for a spooky rainy night.