cover image The Dark Net

The Dark Net

Benjamin Percy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-75033-3

An unlikely group of misfits battles supernatural evil in Percy’s blend of fantasy and SF. In near-future Portland, Ore., 12-year-old Hannah is fitted with a prosthetic to allow her to overcome her incipient blindness; Lela, a work-obsessed journalist, hunts a big story in the Pearl District’s blood-soaked Rue Apartments; and Mike, famed as a child for his (false) claims about near-death experiences involving Jesus and angels, tries to atone for his sins by sheltering Portland’s homeless. Around them cluster a swarm of malevolent bluebottle-like spirits, which are held off by secondary characters for most of the book. Then Hannah is swept into the Dark Net, the horrific digital hell below the Deep Net that underlies the Internet, and Lela and Mike must help her save Portland from demonic possession. Percy (Thrill Me) notes in the acknowledgements that he tried to ground his novel in reality; there’s an abundance of local Portland color and an overabundance of technical detail bogging down his lurid prose. Nonetheless, fans of cyberpunk and occult-flavored fiction may enjoy this outlandish nonreligious fable of good and evil. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown Ltd. (Aug.)