Written by: Matthew J. Barbour
To the outside world, Mona Straw is a successful mother and wife. She is a 6th grade English teacher, compassionate about her job. She tutors students in her off hours and goes out of her way to communicate with their parents.
Beneath it all, Mona Straw is a monster. The person the public trusts to teach their children is a psychopath, a pedophile, and a killer. She is a parent’s worst nightmare.
Savaging the Dark, written by Christopher Conlon, is the story of Mona Straw. From its startling introduction to inevitable conclusion to reflective epilogue, it is a love story. Savaging the Dark is a horrific love story between a middle-aged woman and a pre-teen boy. Told from the perspective of Mona Straw, it is a testimonial as to the madness which consumes her. It is a madness which will eventually destroy the lives of all those she has contact with.
A Bram Stoker Award winner for his Richard Matheson tribute anthology He is Legend, Christopher Conlon has been writing for many years. In Savaging the Dark, Conlon creates a narrative which is both terrifying and all too plausible to the parents of small children. It is perhaps the best book he has ever written, and most certainly, the most disturbing.
While the emphasis is on psychological horror, the straightforward writing style of Conlon creates a narrative which is shockingly graphic. Multiple acts of rape are described between Mona Straw and the eleven year old, Connor Blue. Another child, Kylie McCloud, is murdered by Mrs. Straw for having the audacity to inadvertently threaten her control over the boy.
Savaging the Dark is not for everyone. This is not the overtop romp through sex and violence, depicted by Edward Lee or Richard Laymon. Instead, Conlon gives the reader a good hard look the realities of pedophilia and the people who commit such atrocities. Reader discretion is highly recommended.
Still, for those who can stomach it, the novel is a must read. Conlon’s work follows in the tradition of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho and Ian Bank’s The Wasp Factory. Savaging the Dark is firsthand look into the evils of the human mind.