I am a fan of the untrained talent; the unrefined voice, the unadulterated vision. There is a purity and a passion to compulsion that practice seems to dilute over time. I think we are often prone to see truth when we are unfettered by the need to critique or analyze the presentation. Although Bill Bean is an adept storyteller, it is not so much his ability to chronicle his experiences that impresses, it is the honesty of his written voice. Dark Force, either way, is an easy read. It rarely lingers on the unimportant tangent and the strength of that focused narrative helps propel the pace ever forward.
Dark Force tells the story of Bill and his family over a harrowing and tumultuous decade of experiences in their Maryland home. For those that are looking for the haunting that “passes strange”, this is one to add to their summer reading list. Bill’s accounts represent the extreme end of the haunting spectrum, one that is often disturbing in its ferocity and evil in its intent. It is the single mindedness of the presence to terrify and ultimately try to destroy the Bean family that separates Bill’s account from many similar hauntings that have been written about by some of his contemporaries. There is no question of purpose when it comes to the entities involved: they sought to maim not only the family’s fate but their physical persons and in may ways succeeded on the latter, which ultimately makes Dark Force a story of survival at its heart.
Dark Force begins during Bill’’s adolescence with the purchase of the house in Maryland, a project for his father, a master carpenter, and the obvious socialite of the Bean troupe. Bill’s father and the way he is affected by the dark presence is reminiscent of the Amityville Horror and the parallels are drawn easily, but never disqualifying the intensity of the events. We are able to get a child’s perspective that not only chronicles the sad, desperate path of the head of the family, but every member in the family. We move from sister to father to mother to son and the evolution of these experiences captures the ever present dread not only of the house and it’s unearthly occupants, but of a boy seeing his family literally torn apart from the inside by something he has no frame of reference to combat.
It is, in fact, Bill’s ability to write with the same emotions that he experienced as his child-self that allows you to sympathize not only with the author now, but look through his eyes as he was younger, and share that same fear and ultimately the hope that transcends the horror of it all.