Review: ‘Dark Horizons’ by Dan Smith

Winner of the 2005 Northern Promise Award, Dan Smith follows up his debut novel, ‘Dry Season’, and transports readers to yet another far-flung destination with this startling tale about drugs, betrayal and death.

Dark Horizons tells the story of Alex, who put his life on hold to nurse his terminally ill mother. After her death, Alex finds himself with no ties and sets off to find himself in Indonesia.

No sooner has Alex arrived at his destination, he’s involved in a near-fatal bus crash on a mountainside and, after then being robbed at the roadside whilst critically injured, ends up in a hospital, unable to speak the language. Luckily, he meets a beautiful girl, Domino, who saves him from a run-in with the local police.

Exciting and exotic, Alex’s love affair with Domino takes him off the beaten track and away from any of the sights recommended in the guide books. Domino leads Alex to Lake Toba and to her ‘home’ on the island. A simple life, a million miles away from what he’s left behind, Alex embraces the idea at first but questions keep nagging at him. Why does danger seem to follow Domino? Why are there tensions between the campers and the locals? And where do people keep disappearing to?

Having lived in Indonesia during his childhood, Smith paints a beautiful picture with his vivid descriptions and powerful metaphors. His descriptions conjure up such striking imagery that the reader will have no trouble imagining the stunning landscapes of Sumatra. The description was so vivid that I could see the action happening in my mind’s eye; it was as though I was watching a film, not reading a book.

The stunning scenery is, at times, a complete contrast to the behaviour of the campers, somehow making the actions of some of the characters even more deplorable.

The characters are well constructed and Smith manages to, very subtly, lull you into making assumptions and then, just as you think you know what’s going to happen, sneaks in yet another twist to surprise you. The plot is really well worked and although there seems to be a lot of violence at times, it never seems exaggerated or out-of-place and only serves to heighten the tension further. The final four chapters were really unexpected but intelligently constructed.

Smith’s second offering is like a cross between Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’. The narrative, intertwined with some really evocative prose, carries you away with it, drawing you deeper and deeper into this mystery.

Yet another pacey thriller from Dan Smith – I couldn’t put it down.

Vic x

Get your copy of ‘Dark Horizons’ here:

Get your copy of ‘Dry Season’ here:



One response to “Review: ‘Dark Horizons’ by Dan Smith

  1. Wow, great review thanks. Incidentally, Lord of the Flies is one of my favourites . . .

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