Night Guard / Morning Star

Our mother the artist has pulled a few strings to get us a job as a night watchman at the museum where her latest art exhibit is displayed. The centrepiece of this exhibit is a painting of a man, entitled "Morning Star". I think most people get that this is a reference to Lucifer, and wouldn't you know it, he escapes from his painting. Luckily, the painting of our late aunt comes to life and tells us how to call him back. We've got to enter the other paintings to get what we need, but this certainly isn't some lighthearted romp through worlds unknown. The tone is dark and tragic, with an undercurrent of menace.

Yeah, this is a story about summoning the devil. Then again, what's the devil doing in the details of our mother's paintings, anyway, and why on earth is any of this happening at all? It's certainly not chance.

There's not much in the way of puzzles, and I don't know if our choices throughout the main body of the story make any sort of difference further down the road. There are multiple endings, but it looks as though they all branch out from just one or two choices right at the end. I could be wrong. The rest of the story, despite being nominally about gathering materials like any fetch-quest adventure, seems to be more about exploring and understanding the circumstances behind each painting, and the truth behind our mother's relationship to us and to her art. And in that, there's a certain creeping horror.

The writing's not bad. The story is artfully worked, though not, perhaps, as emotionally affecting as it could be. I did think that our protagonist seemed oddly cold and detached, voiceless, but perhaps there is a good reason for it. Aside from that, the mystery and horror come through very nicely.

I think that if this were a breakfast, it would be a Spanish omelette, served cold, with a piquant undercurrent of green peppers; also, a tall glass of pomegranate juice. It's a complex melange of flavours, and there's an expert hand at the skillet, but the effect is far from friendly.