See now, how to describe this without doing my own indie community a disservice? But this nagging thought really does ring true - reading Barnett is like reading a professionally produced title; something that has been through the wringer and honed with the help of an army of agents and editors. It's easy, colloquial, the best mix of POV and stream of consciousness, spotted with action, filling rivers of long paragraphs where each is a mini-journey.
"Mariah thought of those fleeting moments out in the desert when he had almost seemed awake. The warning squeeze of his fingers on her stomach before she found the plane. The long stare after she woke from her nightmare. The name, his daughter's name, whispered longingly in the dark."
This is book 2 in the Nightmareland series, and the sun is still gone. Night reigns. John and Mariah are fleeing across the desert, (sans Gunslinger) but this is very much Mariah's chapter - her emotional journey as she struggles to get to grips with her own changing body in a world turned upside down. Her chance to find strength, both emotional and physical, instead of relying on John. It's a good decision, artistically, as it allows her character to grow and become one that shares this story, rather than being part of John's. Not that she was secondary in part 1, but this feels more.
"Which side of the aisle had they been on? Mariah wondered. And who got the window? Probably the boy, she decided. Yes, they would have given the boy the window. She could tell it was a boy because of the red sneakers and the Spiderman pajamas. She could also tell he was still breathing. She covered her mouth and moaned."
It's horror in the vein of Joe Hill, threaded with paranormal elements, in good All-American settings. With unsettling images and an unflinching narrative, the characterisation leads the way, so much so that you can almost forget the lights have been turned off. But how can the moon still be visible without a sun? This is one of the mysteries I can't wait to resolve. The biggest negative? The whole series isn't ready to go right now!