The Painted Darkness: A Novella
When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his grief by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually Henry's mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.
Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son and life couldn't be better... except there's something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There's something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.
A winter storm is brewing and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.
But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him... or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?
Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief—and what happens when we're finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well.
"The tone and building dread reminded me of classic Stephen King. Great velocity and impact, and super creepy. Don't go in the basement!"
— Stewart O'Nan, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Country and A Prayer for the Dying
— Richard Matheson, New York Times bestselling author of What Dreams May Come and I Am Legend
"Brian James Freeman's evocative tale about the dark corners of an artist's imagination is elegant and haunting."
— David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Shimmer
"The Painted Darkness is a dark, terrifying, and deeply moving gem of a novella. Brian James Freeman managed to both scare me and move me to tears."
— Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Keepsake
"Wonderfully reminiscent of the quiet horror of Charles L. Grant, The Painted Darkness takes readers on a gently chilly walk through the forest of fears both conscious and subconscious. With Straubian lyricism, Brian James Freeman evokes not only the irrational terrors of childhood, but addresses the roots of creativity and the vital importance of art. A very impressive achievement."
— Bentley Little, award-winning author of The House and His Father's Son