Cover design by Kaytalin Platt, author of The Living God
The Dark Mountain mixes childish wonder and sinister essence, making this book an exciting psychological trip that leaves readers questioning childhood, innocence, adulthood, and the dichotomy of good and evil.
Themes include: overcoming depression, unearthing repressed memories, and facing your demons.
My goals: I always hoped this book would save a life. To show someone that the dark energy of depression can be used against itself to create something positive.
Also, I always had the idea that events from the early chapters would become more meaningful near the end, resurfacing like forgotten memories. I imagined I could recreate the experience of remembering a repressed past for readers who’ve never experienced such things.
Book I: The Dreaming Road
“Stories are like islands, go out exploring and you’re bound to get lost fantastically.”
MICHAEL CONALL wants nothing more than to be the hero of his own story. Mikey—as he goes by—is eight years old, and he is tasked to find a way into the world of dreams, and must also take with him, his best friend, CATTHERINA. But after an accident in the wine cellar, Mikey is forced to leave Cattherina to her punishment with her stepdad, who the children ominously call “the mountain.” Mikey runs away and ends up escaping from reality, alone.
While the fate of his friend remains a mystery, Mikey arrives upon a magical island known as, EPOTUS. He soon meets a few creatures who help to teach him about the land: OGLE, a talking black bird, known as a crallow bird; MAESTRO, an incredibly intelligent frog; and CREACH, the last Giant of Epotus.
Mikey learns that Epotus is in a dire situation: The life-force of the island, the bees, are at civil war and the return of THE DARK MOUNTAIN—a literal mountain of darkness—closes in, aiming to bury Epotus in a crash course collision. Mikey is destined to face and defeat the Mountain. Feeling too much pressure to be a hero in this land, Mikey searches for a way back to reality. Creach, takes him to a secret place to make his way. While trapped underground, nearing his escape, Mikey learns a terrible truth: he has been physically split in two!
While Mikey—his innocent self—remains trapped in Epotus, we follow our hero, Michael, as he makes his way back to the real world….
Book II: The Winding Road
“It’s not the world that haunts you—it is the Mountain that hunts you!”
Michael, now in his adolescence, who has no memory of his time on the island, feels like an outcast as he wanders the wastelands of high school. Only his best friend, TYLER BORDER, keeps him safe and sane. But after a violent incident involving a high school bully, Tyler is taken away.
Alone again, Michael despairs as his world seems to get taken over by evil. Michael soon encounters a shadowy figure, known as a TAKER. This figure forces Michael to drink the Wastes—a drug-like potion that sooths the horrifying aspects of his new reality. The drug proves addicting, and on prom night, Michael faces a new crossroad: break free of the darkness or die in order to stop it.
Before Michael can kill himself, he meets a new mysterious being: THE TRESPASSER. The two face off—throwing punch after punch—in an epic fight! Before his defeat, the Trespasser reveals that he is the product of Michael—like a split-personality—created by his acts of leaving Epotus and running from the Mountain. But Michael does not understand. Epotus? Mountain? After this confrontation, Michael begins to remember….
Book III: The Waking Road
“The bees are coming! They fight for us!”
Michael, now in college, spends the next few years trying to unearth the rest of his childhood memories. After a night of drinking, Michael hits a breaking point and slips into a bathtub, nearly drowning himself.
Rather than drowning, Michael awakens to find himself back in Epotus where his memories return. Michael remembers that his young, innocent doppelganger is still trapped somewhere in this other realm.
Michael rescues his childhood-self, Mikey, who tells him all about his days of youth. Michael and Mikey work together and rescue their old friend, Cattherina, who is overjoyed! The three of them join up with Creach and Ogle to form a new company. But their adventure is far from over. The company must split up in order to reach the journey’s end.
Creach takes Mikey and Cattherina to search for a new way out of Epotus, while Michael and Ogle go off to face the Dark Mountain.
Mikey and Cattherina are mysteriously abandoned by Creach after a locust plague surrounds the two children. United by the acts of Maestro and Ogle, the great warrior bees of Epotus finally arrive to defend the children.
Meanwhile, Michael and Ogle face the Mountain. Michael utilizes his dark half, the Trespasser, to take on an evil Taker. With the Taker defeated, Michael moves on face the Dark Mountain. Will Michael save Epotus before the Dark Mountain collides with the land? Will he finally restore his childhood innocence and become whole again?
Freelance Editor Liz B. of EB Editing writes:
About the Genre -
"This novel is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s "It," a novel about now-adults who must learn from their child forms to save themselves from the darkening evil that constantly threatens their lives. Thus, I would likely place it in a similar genre: contemporary horror, perhaps, or more generally supernatural fiction or science fiction."
About the Dialogue -
“I love the dialogue in this manuscript, plain and simple…Page 139 [Chapter 8: Tyler Border and the Rope Tree] is one of my favorite instances of dialogue in the manuscript—the nonchalant, carefree, somewhat detached dialogue is incredibly realistic and reflects the characters very well. I don’t have much else to say about this category except that every piece of dialogue in this text was interesting to me and helped to develop the characters, something that I really appreciated.”
About the Ending -
“I do feel like the author tied up a lot of loose ends in these pages and the text is organized like much of the story. I do like that the ending is happy…and that it provides closure for readers to be satisfied with the outcome.”
In Summary -
“[The Dark Mountain]…has a happy feel to it, but beneath its surface lies a more sinister, darker theme that is fascinating to readers who like a good psychological twister or thriller in general. The concept of a man so consumed by his own mind that it begins to change his perceptions of things until he conquers “the mountain” inside of him is fascinating, as is how nearly every event in the manuscript connects with the time lapse and alternate worlds this author creates.
“I’ve never quite critiqued a book like this, with such use of intricate plot lines and symbolic meanings, and I have to say that it was extremely refreshing. The uniqueness of the plot, dialogue, and the relatability of the characters all drive this story forward, and the setting detail helps to increase tension and conflict throughout.”
Professional Editor Catherine York of CritiqueMyNovel.com writes:
About the Horror Aspects -
Great job...with the scare of Creach growing too big that he almost crushed Mikey [Chapter 6: The Creature Inside].
When Mikey is in the tunnel [Chapter 7: Into the Veins of the Island], there are moments of confusion...but otherwise, it was an enjoyable read. You did well with showing the claustrophobic aspect once he goes into the rift to find the source of the mysterious voice.
About the Psychological Aspects -
“I enjoyed the descriptions...when [Michael] is having his illusions. You kept readers deep in his perspective with his experiences and reactions. Great job!”
About the Pacing -
“I do appreciate that the story is ramping up toward the climax. And you write well enough to keep me wanting to read...”
One thing I figured out early on, is that many of the themes used in my novel are kind of depressing. Typically, readers don’t really want to experience books with downer stories and sad endings (at least I don’t). Also, the subject matters of depression and mental health illness can be controversial for some. So instead, I decided to use symbolism to represent things that can be tied back to real life—only these things are much more cool! Like how fighting an epic, dark and evil mountain is far more interesting, than say, gaining confidence and self-esteem by partaking in group therapy sessions. Here’s a few examples…
The Mountain = Depression
The closer the Mountain gets to the island, in sense, the closer to succumbing to depression Michael Conall becomes. Allowing that to happen, well, is like letting it win. It’s like giving up. Michael must push back the darkness by finding strength within.
The Island = Dissociation
The desire to “disappear” and to escape to a better world is a big part to how some people--especially children--deal with turmoil in their lives. The island in my story physically represents this phenomenon.
The WINGS = Awareness / Acceptance / Empathy
One of the main “powers” that Michael Conall achieves in this story, is the ability to see into the story of people and physical things. He opens his mind, “spreads his wings” so-to-speak. This new way of being is embodied in the Wings, an actual physical artifact that Michael possesses as a child and then again as an adult.
The WASTES = Emptiness / Denial / Apathy
One of the main “distractions” to Michael achieving his goal is the act of closing his mind, or denying his fate, so-to-speak. This is a different way of disappearing, and could eventually lead to the Mountain winning. The Wastes, in essence, is the antithesis to the Wings. It is a drug that Michael Conall uses during his time as an adolescence.
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M. Robert Randolph has a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, with a focus on Multimedia & Graphic Arts. Before writing a novel, he has written several pieces of poetry and an unpublished short story. He has studied from such textbooks as Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway and Writing From Within by Bernard Selling. His favorite books include, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. When he’s not editing his novel and running his Inkshares campaign, he works for a consulting firm and visits museums to relax and think.