Saturday 10 February 2024

Isabelle Kenyon, "The Dark Within Them"


Isabelle Kenyon is a Manchester writer and editor, and the author of 5 poetry chapbooks including Growing Pains (Indigo Dreams) and one short story with Wild Pressed Books ('The Town Talks'). She has had work published internationally in journals such as Ink, Sweat and Tears and newspapers such as The Somerville Times and The Bookseller. She coordinates the Northern Fiction Alliance and runs PR campaigns for writers and publishers under Kenyon Author Services. She has performed at Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Verbose, Manchester, Leeds International Festival as part of the 'Sex Tapes,' Apples and Snakes and Coventry Cathedral's Plum Line Festival.

About The Dark Within Them, by Isabelle Kenyon


Faith-healer Amber is hopeful about Lehi, the safe Mormon town to which she, her new husband and two kids have just moved. 


After the sudden death of her daughter, Amber discovers the community will do anything to keep its secrets.


When nothing feels certain anymore, will Amber take a leap of faith, for love?

You can read more about The Dark Within Them on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the opening of the novel. 

From The Dark Within Them

The Meeting, July 11th 2015


This was the kind of meeting all diaries were cleared for. Chad stood central in a horseshoe of bodies, an unlikely orchestrator. The floor was his but his tongue lay slack, hiding behind his lower teeth. There was a tremor in his wife’s shoulders which made him roll back his own, and clear his throat for silence. Each sound in the Temple reverberated off the pristine white surfaces.

“Thank you for being here today,” he begun. “I have great faith in the church community and its advice. Hell, we’ve all stood where I am now at one point or another, I’m sure. And today it’s my turn to ask for your help, with our Gilly.”

The open windows seeped humid twilight into the hall and beads of sweat formed under his cotton shirt. He talked slowly, using his hands as an offering. Holding his palms open showed he had nothing to hide: he’d been taught that by his uncle Jim. His audience gazed, unblinking. He wiped clammy paws on his jeans. He was forgetting people knew him here—since he could wobble around the neighbourhood on pudgy toddler legs—and that earned him a kind of immunity from judgement.

“Gilly’s fifteen. Young. She’s … she’s mostly a good kid. Anything badness in her? It didn’t come from her mothering. That’s not to blame,” he nodded with what he felt was warmth at his wife, her cheeks betraying a shade of fuchsia. “Perfect mother in my Amber. She made sure those kids grew up in a loving, attentive environment, and they wanted for nothing—don’t doubt that. But since Gilly moved to Lehi, with young Ivan and their mom, well, she’s been finding getting settled tough. This is a good neighbourhood—we all know that—and Amber and I, we’ve been wanting them to make friends. And these days…well, kids are always on their phones, right? Texting nonstop. She was texting at dinner and, erm,” he paused and pulled on his earlobe, “I asked to see her phone.” He felt Amber’s disapproval nettle his skin and revised: “I took her phone. And that’s when we saw the pictures.” He looked away from his wife’s shrinking form. “To be sending those kind of images to a boy—outside of the church—well, we’re all kind of cut up about it. There’s a kind of darkness in my home these days.”

He breathed out, realising his fingernails had been digging so hard into his palms that they had left indents…He flexed his hands, feeling for the back of a chair to sink into.

“Thank you, Chad,” Brett’s eyes crinkled, kind. “This is exactly the right space to discuss these kind of family dynamics in.” The circle nodded at these words, mumbling approval. “You’ve done the right thing.”

Amber wasn’t looking at him. He shuffled his chair closer to reach for her hand, but she pretended not to notice.

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