Children of the Dark
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.
Taking care of his six-year-old sister and his mother, who is addicted to drugs, has forced 15-year-old Will to grow up quickly in his small Southern town of Shadeland. Will and his group of outcast friends face the usual torments; bullying by the popular in-crowds, and girls who seem just out of reach. But things are not always what they seem. Mia, the girl of Will’s dreams, seems to reciprocate Will’s feelings. All goes well until the bullies enter the picture and one of the girls gets carried into the woods by something sinister. This is a very quick read and after a gradual build-up over the first half of the story, the pace becomes breakneck.
An intricate intermingled plot involving evil creatures keeps this title from being a typical coming-of-age story. The first half of the novel introduces the characters and backstory, and by then, the mayhem of a serial killer and mystical monsters becomes believable, though readers will be wondering what’s going on. The unbelievably irresponsible police officers might be problematic if this book were a more realistic coming-of-age tale, but in a more fantastical genre, they make sense.
The characters always come across as real people and I became very emotionally attached and invested in these characters. The monsters are very well thought out and are quite scary to imagine. There is a good amount of gore that never feels forced and makes sense at all times. The ending was very well done and avoids the temptation of everything ending happily. There is darkness in the main character that really makes everything more realistic. The ending has hints of a sequel which I hope will happen. This is an excellent novel written by an author at the top of his game. This book was so much fun to read and I highly recommend it.
Children of the Dark is a prequel to Janz’ serial novel, Savage Species. Both the prequel and the serial novel involve a horrific species of supernatural monsters that are sort of based on Native American folklore. Children of the Dark’s protagonist, Will Burgess, is a loner type teenage boy who is the son of a single mother. You end up feeling very sympathetic to him and his friends while they face terrifying horrors and their extremely cruel, bullying classmates. In the end, you will no doubt feel truly protective of Will and his friends, and want to see them make it out of the story alive. Overall the descriptions of the frightening monsters are excellent and extremely violent. It’s very inappropriate for younger children.
About the book Author
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which 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.” His newest release is 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, on Instagram (jonathanjanz) or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
Title: Children of the Dark
Author: Jonathan Janz
Published Date: March 15, 2016
Series: Prequel to Serial Novel, Savage Species
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Suspense
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 293 pages
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 3.8 /5
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