“[Dark Father] is certainly dark, often brutal, and yet golden-threaded by an earnest line in characterisation. The characters are tender, bruised, realistic. The common theme of each tale is abusive men, with the women and children in their lives fighting for survival. It's so grippingly near the knuckle, the book remains clamped in your hands…This is truly dig-beneath-the-bone disturbing; it gave me a feeling similar to Michael Haneke's Funny Games (without the postmodern tricks). At one point, I felt as if every character couldn't be trusted, a paranoiac and punishing effect. In short, I loved this very real and personal book. It does what the best dark fiction should do: conjure terror from plausible episodes, from characterisation that rings true…A great, great book.”

−Gary Fry, author of Shades of Nothingness

(Read the full review HERE)


Dark Father is a beautifully constructed novel, at times harrowing to read and with each section slotting neatly in with the rest, so that what we actually receive is more like a Picasso-style portrait of fatherhood and what it means. Desperation is a key note here, each and every character finding a way to cope with the horrors of their existence, and madness an enabling device, a way to adjust. The writing is compelling and powerful, putting us right inside the heads of these people and letting us feel their pain, their hopes and desires...I absolutely loved this book and hope Cooper doesn’t wait another seven years before he publishes his next novel.”

−Peter Tennant, Black Static #43


“James Cooper's latest novel, Dark Father, pushes readers onto an emotional roller coaster that leads to the darkest corners of the human soul. Three different narratives present three uniquely developed characters: a violent husband full of rage and hatred, an unstable husband dealing with the loss of his son, and an elderly man locked away in a mental asylum who is struggling with his past. What could these three men possibly have in common? The answer is not only horrifying but also deeply heart-breaking. As I finished this novel, I found myself experiencing a full range of emotions from hatred to empathy. Cooper has created an amazing story with extremely well-developed characters and a plot so full of twists and turns that I was anticipating each new page.”

−The Haunted Bookshelf



“Cooper is able to hold the story together in a unified thread while exploring it from different angles at the same time…[he] is able to hold it together until the end to provide a unique reading experience. The figure of the dark father is present throughout the story and is a disturbing presence that haunts the novel and keeps the tension ratcheted up to a frantic level. There is a darkness that lurks inside all of us and Cooper is unafraid to set that darkness loose upon the world in this original and frightening novel.”



“The prose, as expected, is pitch-perfect and Cooper creates some wonderfully drawn and chilling characters. The book moves between the three storylines effortlessly and, as they progress, a feeling that there are connections between the narratives over and above the over-arching theme grows. As indeed there are - and those connections are brilliantly engineered, often coming as revelatory shocks. To reveal those connections would be to spoil the experience of reading Dark Father as much of the pleasure of reading it lies in its structure, the way information is given to the reader and the way in which the narrative threads come together. Horrific things happen and there are subtle hints of the supernatural in Dark Father - one of the characters gains a form of second-sight in the most ironic of ways - but it is, in essence, an exploration of human behaviour - the darker aspects thereof in particular - and how, as Philip Larkin so poetically put it, your parents can fuck you up.
Dark Father is a wonderful piece of writing that satisfies on every level and I thoroughly recommend it.”

−Dark Musings