Insanity, horror and dark fiction are my catharsis. Brutally honest reviews are on the house.
Children of the Dark is the third novel I have read by Jonathan Janz. I’m not sure if it is my favorite thus far, because everything I have read by him has really been very good. Intelligent, thoughtful, and witty, Janz has quickly become one of my new favorite authors. My only regret is how long it took me from first hearing his name, about a year ago, to actually getting around to reading one of his books. I’m so glad that I did.
A prequel of sorts to Savage Species (which I haven’t read but shall be rectifying soon), Children of the Dark takes place in the small town of Shadeland. Small town or not, life is a far cry from The Waltons for 15-year-old Will Burgess. His father walked out, his mother is a drug addict who sleeps all of the time, and Will is left to be the sole caretaker of his much younger sister, Peach. Many people call this a coming of age story but it’s more than that. Will was already more adult than most of the adults in his town to begin with. To tell you that it’s just a story about Will would be to sell you short. It’s a story about people and all of their flaws as much as it is about monsters. It’s the story of a town and all of the dirty secrets that lie within.
The story admittedly starts out a tad slow but it gives you the foundation that every good story needs to have any sort of depth. It’s the difference between this being just another cliché teen monster story and giving you characters that you can relate with, characters who could very well be you. Whether from experience or exceptional storytelling, Jonathan Janz is well acquainted with the human condition and the pain that comes with it. He is also very adept at painting for you something out of your worst nightmares, whether it is a serial killer on the hunt or monsters prowling about the woods. Could a town possibly be so unfortunate to attract both?
The answer is yes and the catalyst may be more surprising than the results.
Jonathan Janz, as always, writes a good story. What I love about it is that he makes his characters real and his monsters believable. You want the good guys to survive but the bad ones are human enough that there is no satisfaction in their death and that to me is the story of humanity. People are never black and white. A story is never one-dimensional. Children of the Dark could be your town.
I received this copy as an e-ARC from Sinister Grin Press and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
© 2016 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum.
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Children of the Dark, Synopsis
Will Burgess is used to hard knocks. Abandoned by his father, son of a drug-addicted mother, and charged with raising his six-year-old sister, Will has far more to worry about than most high school freshmen. To make matters worse, Mia Samuels, the girl of Will’s dreams, is dating his worst enemy, the most sadistic upperclassman at Shadeland High. Will’s troubles, however, are just beginning.
Because one of the nation’s most notorious criminals—the Moonlight Killer—has escaped from prison and is headed straight toward Will’s hometown. And something else is lurking in Savage Hollow, the forest surrounding Will’s rundown house. Something ancient and infinitely evil. When the worst storm of the decade descends on Shadeland, Will and his friends must confront unfathomable horrors. Everyone Will loves—his mother, his little sister, Mia, and his friends—will be threatened.
And very few of them will escape with their lives.
Biography of Jonathan Janz
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a
way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”
2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, “Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror–Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows–will find much to relish.” Jonathan’s Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.
Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a “Rousing-good weird western,” and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014’s top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan “Horror’s Next Big Thing.” 2015 also saw the release of Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.
His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
Praise for Children of the Dark
“Jonathan Janz brings us a vicious tale of terror with the innocence of youth in a coming of age tale that should surely make Stephen King smile.” – Dave, Beneath the Underground on
“Jonathan Janz has written the next definitive coming-of-age horror novel that is sure to be mentioned alongside those that came before it. Be on the right side of history and read it now, before it becomes a classic.” –Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to be Paid
Praise for Jonathan Janz
“Janz is the literary love child of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (with a little Joe Lansdale DNA in the mix), with all the terror that implies. Try him out. You won’t be disappointed.”
-Pod of Horror
“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene, best-selling author
“It’s the best of its kind I’ve read in years, such that I’d call it 'The Quintessential Haunted House Novel.' You’ve taken the old school traditions of the form which readers want and then have injected modern style, characters, and macabre, hard-edged mayhem into the guts of the story. THAT’S the way to do it, my friend!”
-Author Edward Lee on House of Skin
“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.” –Tim Waggoner, multi-published author
"Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror--Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows--will find much to relish." - Publishers Weekly on Savage Species
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