Children of the Dark.
Janz, Jonathan (author).
Mar. 2016. 398p. Sinister Grin, paperback, $16 (9781944044145).
REVIEW. First published March 15, 2016 (Booklist).
In the first lines of this chilling novel Will lets us know that he has a terrifying story to tell, “The week I saw seventeen people die didn’t begin with blood, monsters, or a sadistic serial killer. It all began with a baseball game.” And so, we readers wait, the tension builds relentlessly throughout the book, and all of those terrible things do eventually come to pass in perfect horror fashion. But first we are settled into Will’s life in small town Indiana. A local baseball star, he is also poor, with a drug addicted, single mom, and a six year old sister whom he adores. Soon this unlikely hero will lead the entire community into a battle for their lives. The strong narrative voice, a recently awoken ancient evil, and a terrifying serial killer with surprisingly strong ties to Will combine forces to deliver a story with an old school horror feel that is in no way derivative. Heart-pounding action, well developed characters (both good and evil), and just the right amount of gore drive this fast paced story to its unsettling conclusion. This is the perfect book for those who love classic Stephen King. Think Stand by Me meets Something Wicked This Way Comes with a generous helping of the pulp sensibility of Brian Keene and you have Janz, a horror storyteller on the rise.I read a lot of horror books, and when it comes to newer voices, I always go in with a skeptical eye, meaning I was predisposed to not being impressed here. That fact makes how much I was blown away by this novel even more impressive. Janz has been receiving praise in the horror community for about a year, but now is the time for the wider world to start reading him.
Three Words That Describe This Book: strong narrative voice, well developed characters, awesome tension
Readalikes: As I said above, classic Stephen King and the Bradbury coming of age, small midwest town, horror classic Something Wicked This Way Comes are great options. But there is a bit of the more modern pulp mastery of a writer like Brian Keene here too.
Other books Children of the Dark reminded me of (with links to reviews) are:
All three of these critically acclaimed horror novels have strong a narrative voice, a coming of age theme, and wonder characterization, just like Janz’s novel.
This book comes out tomorrow. GO ORDER IT NOW.