‘The Only Safe Place Left is the Dark’: a bleak, refreshing take on apocalypse survival

March 20, 2024

TITLE: The Only Safe Place Left is the Dark
AUTHOR: Warren Wagner
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGES: 92pg
PUBLISHER: Ghoulish Books

In The Only Safe Place Left is the Dark, an HIV-positive gay man must leave the relative safety of his cabin in the woods to brave the zombie apocalypse and find the medication he needs to stay alive.

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By the summer of 1988, the only thing holding Frankie’s bones together was his skin.

From the very first line, you know The Only Safe Place Left is the Dark will be a bleak, unsettling tale, and it surely delivers. It’s a unique perspective on a post-apocalyptic “infected” scenario, and Quinton is an easy character to empathize with. The writing was lovely, the pacing was solid, and the underlying plot about Quinton’s experiences as an HIV+ gay man in the 80s was absolutely heartbreaking.

My only complaint is that I wish this story had been longer! I think it would’ve worked beautifully as a 150- to 200-page novella, and then we would have had more time to watch certain emotional elements and characters develop, which would have allowed the story’s high stakes to be even better. That said, I still immensely enjoyed this and highly recommend it!

Thank you to BookSirens for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →
WARNINGS (click to expand):

homophobia, slurs, violence, body horror, gore, murder, torture, insects, grief, death of a partner/spouse, terminal illness, drug usage/addiction

representation →

Quinton is gay and HIV+; mentions of a (deceased) gay character; Billy is Black, gay, and HIV+

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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

4 Comments
    1. Oh, I think I did see this on BookSirens! It sounds good! Yeah, I also read a novella and wanted it to be longer because sometimes the story isn’t fully fleshed out in the amount of pages that we get. Glad to see you liked it!

      1. Thank you! It was excellent. I’m sad that not getting enough depth is a bit of a common issue with novellas, but I guess it makes sense when we’re used to more novel-length books!

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