The Black Room Story, also know as In the Darkness That’s Where I’ll Know You by Luke Smitherd was originally published as four stories. I read the omnibus edition though, and I feel that it was a full and proper novel. If you’re interested then I definitely recommend the full version.
I was drawn to this story by the logline: ‘There are hangovers, there are bad hangovers, and then there’s waking up inside someone else’s head.’
Having recently tried to diversify my reading this sounded akin to David Levithan’s Everyday which I reviewed last year. The concept of being inside someone’s head is very intriguing to me, and while the similarity between the two works ended at that basic concept, I wasn’t disappointed with how brilliant Luke Smitherd’s book is; I would even say that I enjoyed it more.
Part of the reason I enjoyed it more is because its set in the UK so I immediately could relate to it better, but it was mainly because it was about adults. While I love YA and NA fiction, I’m older than those target audiences. Charlie and Minnie the main characters have a bit more mileage on them than the average age of a YA character. They are in their late 20s/early 30s, and they are still trying to figure out what they want from life.
This is very relateable to many people of my age; waking up inside someone else’s head after a bender would definitely be one hell of a wake up call for us, and that is exactly what happens to Charlie. He has a bender, fuelled a bit by drugs, and wakes up inside Minnie’s head.
From that moment on the reader is drawn in and intrigued about why it is happening in the first place; why it is happening to Charlie and Minnie specifically; and how it is ever going to end. As much as they come to respect one another, it isn’t an ideal situation to find oneself in; as it turns out events that are happening are even more complicated and complex than Charlie and Minnie first imagine.
It is very rare for a book to be able to surprise me with it’s ‘twist’: I usually roll my eyes because I had see the twist coming from a mile off. While I was able to use my experience of science-fiction to guess why there was differences between Charlie’s reality and Minnie’s reality, I never saw the biggest twist coming.
In fact I had thought the book had gotten a bit samey and comfortable about two pages before the biggest reveal of the book smacked me across the face and made me utter OMG! (Anyone who knows me, knows I rarely use OMG! unless genuinely prompted to do so).
This book is crafted beautifully, just enough is revealed by Smitherd to want to make you keep reading, and the twists in the book are just sublime. It will make you think, keep you on the edge of your seat, and ever so slightly break your heart.
I love that I have discovered this book and this author, and I’m eager to read more by him.