This is a debut from Langmead and wow what a debut. Dark Star combines hard boiled noir with sci fi in an epic poem. The Dark Star of the title burns black and the people of the city of Vox rely on 3 Hearts for power and to bring light. Virgil and Dante are cops out to find the killer of Vivian North whose body turns up shining brightly with un-natural light. They think it’s related to Prometheus, a street drug of liquid light, that Virgil himself is in thrall to but they are pulled ever further into a case that has deep and lasting ramifications for Vox and the world.
In school they try to teach you how to cope
With the constant dark, to tell you to find light
And avoid being immersed in blackness
They fairly know what it does to a man
This is an unusual book, being, as it is, poetry, but that shouldn’t put you off, it is a remarkable read, and an easy one. Virgil is a hero for bringing in a serial killer, but he is scarred, both in body and deep inside by the experience. Dante is a cop with grit. The dark city is an eerie backdrop, filled with ghosts (literally) and shadow, a compelling setting richly invoked by the writing. There is a deft worldbuilding at work in here and a riveting story. Unsung Stories (the publisher of this and The Beauty - which I previously reviewed) are rapidly becoming a small press to watch.
Overall - Down these shadowed streets a flawed knight must seek to bring the light