By: Jonathan Janz
Sinister Grin Press
Will is your typical teenager struggling to overcome the obstacles into young adulthood. With an impoverished lifestyle at the hands of a negligent, addict of a single mother, a dependent little sister, bullying adversaries at school and a crush on one of the bully’s girlfriend it seems as though Will has enough to cope with in his home town of Shadeland. A true test of raw determination and intestinal fortitude presents itself after a convict has escaped billed as The Moonlight Killer. If Will and his allies Chris and Barley don’t have enough to face, they soon learn of the ominous creatures lurking in the shadows known simply in local folklore as the children of the dark.
Children of the Dark marks the second reading adventure I’ve embarked upon with author Jonathan Janz at the helm. I was a huge fan of The Nightmare Girl from Samhain Publishing. Suffice to say I was most excited to jump in head first into the intense pulse pounding suspense I had only minimal exposure to from this very gifted writer.
The story starts off in first person point of view, through the eyes of Will. Conflict is unveiled instantly at a baseball game pitting rival adolescents Will, Chris and company against antagonists, jocks and popular kids Brad and Kurt. Without engaging in abundant plot spoilers, our protagonists become heroes of the day and prevail in American’s greatest past-time. The adversaries take exception to their unlikely loss and have even greater issue to find their respective girlfriends chatting it up with the winning team. Janz creates a most effective back drop in rising conflict. It takes no time flat for the plight of lead character Will to resonate among a vast audience. We strive to learn more about his struggle and on an almost vicarious nature vie to see him achieve success in overcoming his barriers. The audience finds a little of ourselves within the lead character and reminisce over our own social follies while growing up.
The author has an infectious prose that will inspire many readers to digest this considerable novel in two to three sittings. With a virtual prolific, astounding segue in each chapter, the action swiftly becomes adrenaline fuelled refusing to relent until the final pages. Cliff hanger type climaxes upon the conclusion of each chapter prompts the reading audience to charter further and further into the plot.
Children of the Dark is a delicate blend of expert execution in exposition, realistic dialogue, and horrifically brutal description in each of the action sequences. As a result the plausibility of this tale is enhanced and we never really question the authenticity of the tale.
Janz should be commended for drafting a complex plot with multiple layers. This novel can’t quite be classified into one tidy genre. Fans of slasher sequences, those who rejoice in the paranormal or readers who appreciate a good old fashioned anywhere, USA thriller can and will readily devour the contents.
One cannot deny numerous parallels between this tale and the runaway smash Netflix original hit Stranger Things. Rest assured Children of the Dark was published long before the Duffer Brothers classic in the making had debuted. While there are some similarities the differences also are as equally abundant. Fans of the serial will no question gravitate towards this literary gem. The author seems to have a firm grasp upon his market and the increasing genre demand within the horror realm. I can see a most effective film adaptation spawning from this creation.
I’m especially fond of the manner in which the final pages unfolded. Make no mistake about it, if you’re looking for a typical Hollywood cookie cutter ending, perhaps you should look elsewhere. It’s indicative that Jonathan Janz is not at all intimidated to create an original conclusion that is far from cliché and will keep readers guessing long after the final chapter. A certifiable conversational piece, Janz should be very proud of this endeavor. I’m personally prompted to explore further endeavors under the Jonathan Janz brand.