Darkness {Book Club}

Is it just me—or is anyone else like WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS BOOK?!?

Every time I turn the page, I am expecting to understand something new about the plot, but instead I feel even more confused. Each paragraph leads me to more questions than answers, and I do not like it. Ok, maybe it is a little fun, but for now I am confused.

Being “in the dark” is a curious thing. Sometimes it is deliberate, like when someone intentionally does not reveal essential information intentionally (i.e. Shawn Smucker… ha!). Other times it is an accident, like forgetting to tell a close friend big news because you thought you already had.

In chapters 8-15, we start to see that Dan and his friends have been living in a false reality. Whether deliberate or accidental, they are living “in the dark.” In the first section of the book, it is almost as if they like living in ignorance, because living in the light is much more painful. But slowly, as memories return and the truth is revealed, reality is illuminated and they can’t run from it anymore.

Part of the mystery for me in these chapters comes from the “nameless things.” As far as I can tell, they are forces that are not being labeled or acknowledged but that have power: unforgiveness, lies, and inner turmoil. At one point toward the end of this section there is a warning, “But over the plains, a nameless darkness gathered, thick and new and frightening.”

It is evident that there are more powerful secrets coming, even worse than the memories that were shared about Dan’s twin brother.

Could it get any worse? And honestly, what is worse in this case… being in the dark or learning the truth? Will the darkness lose its power, or will the truth wreak havoc on their lives?

What is hardest for me is that the more I learn about Dan’s brother, the less I understand. Is he unworthy of leaving the torture on the mountain? Do others simply need to forgive him to move on to the East? Or would forgiveness drive them to desire to rescue him from being the last one on the mountain? Maybe it is actually unforgiveness or blame that enables them to move on.

In your experience, would you prefer being “in the dark” or knowing the full truth? Or does it vary depending on the circumstances?

Additional thought: has anyone read Dante’s Inferno? Apparently, there are supposed to be some connections between that piece and These Nameless Things.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the book:

August 17: Chapters 16-22

August 24: Chapters 23-30

August 31: No Book Club, learn about the next session of Connection Groups


  1. Michelle Kiprop August 10, 2021

    Well I am currently sick, quarantined, and at home. So I finished the book. I’m avoiding giving away spoilers though! I made notes at the end of each section so as not to get ahead in discussion. But I will say I liked the first half of the book WAY more than I liked the second half. As in, this is the last section that I actually liked. These were some of my thoughts as I wrapped up this particular section. I just keep wondering if somehow Dan’s brother is actually a more evil version of himself that he has somehow mentally split into becoming a brother instead of his dark side. I know it’s a stretch.. But this book is kinda out there! I noticed that Mary’s leaving ceremony felt like a funeral. And the mysterious woman somehow reminds me of Satan. An angel of darkness masquerading as light. Some of my questions were: Is she just trying to draw him back into captivity? Is she hoping to bring the entire community back into captivity? Why? How did the awakening of all of the memories relate to her arrival? So way more questions than anything. But my interest was very piqued.

    While there are times where there can be a certain element of “ignorance is bliss” overall I prefer stepping out of the darkness and into the light. You can’t move to a better place, or take steps toward healing, if you are sitting in the dark all of the time. Knowledge brings both power and freedom.; freedom to make choices.

    1. Rachel Kahindi August 10, 2021

      That’s an interesting thought of Dan’s brother being his alter-ego!

    2. Amanda Hutton August 11, 2021

      Michelle, sorry to hear that you are in quarantine, but what a great opportunity to read! I love your theory about Dan and Adam being one person… I was actually considering something like that, thinking that Adam represented his “Old Adam” or sinful self. My brain has gone down many rabbit trails thinking of potential symbols. There are so many possibilities in this mysterious book! I also agree with you that knowledge brings power. Also, living in the light is a strong theme in Scripture, so it has to be good. 😉

    3. Phyllis August 17, 2021

      Yes! I am wondering the same thing and Dan and his brother. And the woman… is she Satan or Beatrice?

      I have read Dante, and I am really wondering about how this fits together. Is the mountain the inferno? At least one of the descriptions fits perfectly; it seemed straight out of Dante. And then they’re living in purgatorio? To go on to paradise? Or maybe I’m way off.

  2. Rachel Kahindi August 10, 2021

    In real life, sometimes I avoid knowing, if I expect it to be bad news. It makes no sense because whatever the truth is doesn’t depend on me knowing it or not. Objectively, I think it’s better to know, but I don’t practice that…

    It seems suspect that the woman showed up with the at the same time as the memories — and the mysterious girl from across the plains. I wonder if they are in a world of their own making. Or maybe Dan’s making, since everyone seems to have to do with him.

    But were the hundreds who have already left also harmed by Dan’s brother? Or was something else going on with them?

    1. Bayta Schwarz August 10, 2021

      I’m with you Rachel – the way I act doesn’t always match what I would intellectually agree to…

    2. Amanda Hutton August 11, 2021

      Rachel, interesting thought about this being a world of their own making. I am still trying to wrap my mind around whether or not this is reality. I am starting to think that everyone involved were harmed by Adam, but I am not sure. Can’t wait to read on to see what happens next!

  3. Bayta Schwarz August 10, 2021

    Well that was quite a page-turner and it was hard to stop at the end of the section. I am so confused (which I guess is the point)! I’m fascinated by how relationships change as people remember more of their stories. It is so understandable that people pull back from Dan, as they process new memories. And Dan (equally understandably) feels defensive, never mind is hiding secrets of his own. Thinking of real life now (without the added pressure of a storyline), it takes so much courage to allow people the space to sit with those feelings without pulling away. So hard.
    And no, I have not read Dante’s Inferno.

    1. Amanda Hutton August 11, 2021

      Bayta, I am glad that I am not the only one confused! It is so hard to choose what theme to discuss because there are so many rabbit trails my brain goes down.

  4. Abby August 15, 2021

    I did read Dante’s inferno a while ago in school, and I instantly thought of it the first time they mentioned the deep pit, spiraling down, with someone at the bottom. In Dante’s inferno, there are different levels for the seven deadly sins, the lower down he went the “worse” he felt the sins were. At the very bottom was Lucifer, in whose mouth were who Dante considered the worst traitors-Judas Iscariot I remember, and I don’t remember who else.

    The river and the ferryman are a little confusing to me, as they are indicative of Greek mythology with the river Styx and the ferryman Charon, but in Greek mythology the river is something everyone goes across when they die and pass into Hades, and it is a land of the dead, not necessarily of torture such as Dante’s inferno. So there are some mixed metaphors in here that I am certainly confused how the author is going to use them!

    Overall, it is interesting to think about Dan’s brother’s place at the bottom indicating a place for betrayers, as from the memories we’ve seen so far he harmed everyone and let Dan down, but that doesn’t exactly seem to be the same as betrayal.

    1. Amanda Hutton August 16, 2021

      Abby, thank you for your insights from Dante’s Inferno! It seems to be a personal hell that, unlike eternal death, can be escaped from. I am interested to see where Smucker takes this!

  5. Sarah Hilkemann August 18, 2021

    Personally I hate being in the dark on things. Even if something is hard or painful or will hurt, I would rather just know and then I can deal with it.
    Hearing everyone’s stories and how they fit together was really interesting in this section! I think there’s power in sharing our grief and pain, and bringing things into the light- and I hope that happens for these characters. 🙂

    1. Amanda Hutton August 21, 2021

      Sarah, I agree in the power of sharing our grief with others. Even though bringing darkness to light can be messy, it brings healing.

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