The Dark in the Glow by Dan Sippley

After an exhausting day of social interaction, anxious and nerdy teenager Jacob Branch experiences his first lucid dream. The next day, he’s obsessed with dream control and determined to learn everything there is to know. The exploration of lucid dreaming radically changes his real life in supernatural ways, resulting in awkward and comical situations with his family, best friend, school bully, and a few new and unusual friends. A humourous and heartfelt story of twists, turns, and telekinesis, The Dark in the Glow is a wild ride about the challenges of social anxiety and finding the power to overcome them.

Dan Sippley’s debut YA (young adult) novel The Dark in the Glow, is a novel with amiable characters (aside from Tristan, the school bully) and is complete with circumstances that the reader can identify with, particularly if they are/were a socially awkward teen like Jacob.

I could use the glowing square and its rhythmic tones as a point of focus and concentrate on what I wanted to achieve.

Jacob’s story begins in 1996, a time in history when computers were becoming household items, and this thing called the Information Superhighway was starting to take off. Nintendo was the game console of choice, and Jacob is addicted to Mario 64.

Embarrassed by the thought of meeting someone he knows from school while shopping for a birthday gift for his mother, he ducks into the mall’s new indie bookstore, the “Reading Scout” where he finds a book on birds in the sale bin. Later, Jacob has a dream in which he finds he can control what happens to some extent: a lucid dream. Finding his Internet connection is down, he scrambles back to the Reading Scout to find a book on dreams. He finds what he needs and while paying for it, the owner asks Jacob if he would like to work there after school and on weekends. Surprised at the offer, Jacob accepts. Later that night, after reading some of the book, Jacob finds himself in a dream, in the woods where he finds a desk very much like the one he uses in English class.

I heard several unsettling noises, like a video game that froze, with sustained, glitchy notes of digital sound surrounding me. I watched as the white dissolved to black through a series of squares. They appeared as oversized pixels as they faded away, but a single square remained directly in front of me, about twenty feet away. It glowed and flickered in the darkness. A low, rumble seemed to come from it, causing my entire desk to vibrate. It alternated rhythmically between a barely detectable vibration to a reverberation so strong it made it painful to sit in my chair, so I chose to stand up.
I wondered what this could all mean, but once my heart rate returned to normal, I concluded it was the perfect environment to control my dreams. I could use the glowing square and its rhythmic tones as a point of focus and concentrate on what I wanted to achieve. I got used to the feeling of the vibrations and allowed it to lull me into a deep, meditative state.

Once Jacob learns to control his dreams, and is granted certain powers, the story expands to include a schoolmate, Shelley Bowers and even Dillion, much to Jacob’s dismay as Dillion abuses the powers and this causes a division between them. There are deeper strains of the intent behind these powers and a strange man named Adam makes an appearance, leading them to a cottage deep in the woods where all their questions (and fears) are answered in a journal they discover there.

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I found The Dark in the Glow to be a good YA read, although the story meanders at times and gets convoluted with all the different leaps in credibility the reader needs to make to continue reading. Many YA stories involve magic to some extent, I suppose due to the fact that as teens we wish we could magically make bullies go away, pets talk to us and overcome our awkwardness, making people like us. Mr. Sippley’s debut novel shows us the danger inherent in such powers and that it is already within ourselves to endure, if not overcome our teenage issues.


About the Author

Dan Sippley is originally from Miramichi, New Brunswick and now lives in Toronto. He states that The Dark in the Glow is strongly influenced by his childhood experiences in Miramichi in the 90’s while blending in fantasy elements.

  • Publisher : Dan Sippley (Aug. 28 2020)
  • Paperback : 307 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1777291712
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1777291716

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Owner/Editor-in-Chief at -- Website

James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife and their tabby cat.

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