Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are running out of time to produce a score for an upcoming, big-budget horror flick. Feeling the pressure, yet having creative difficulty, they travel to the Sorrows, an island with a gruesome history. Their intention is simple – to soak up the atmosphere and gain inspiration so that they can finally present a suitable piece of music. The consequences of past events resurface however, and quickly extinguish any chance of success.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Flame Tree Press for giving me the opportunity.
As a debut novel, originally published in 2012, I preferred this more than Janz’s latest book, The Siren and the Spectre. There were aspects I could hold on to – such as the emotional strain of a failed marriage – and many elements that satisfied my yearning for disturbing content. I began to notice a certain theme with Janz’s work, at least similarities between the two I’ve read. He seems to throw a lot into the pot; many varying angles that make the story busy, sometimes to an overwhelming degree. It’s not that I don’t like an eventful plotline, it’s just that it needs to sufficiently connect together for my mind to be at ease with it. I’m not fond on relying purely on suspension of disbelief, of accepting nonsensical happenings just because they service progression. This is largely the issue I encountered with the second half, where several characters emerged from the background and suddenly crowded the chapters. To me, the appearance, especially that of a particular few, was terribly far-fetched.
The characters themselves were mostly dislikeable, apart from the main protagonist and his romantic interest. Whilst I sympathised with Ben, Eddie was on the other end of the spectrum. I despised him so completely and found annoyance in his every scene. He was extremely cliché and two dimensional; one of those testosterone-fuelled males that think of nothing but how to get into a woman’s pants. This blatant obsession of his took centre stage again and again, until I wanted to bang my head against the wall. I don’t mind sex-crazed characters all that much, let that be clear. I just find it tedious when it’s repeatedly shoved in my face. With Eddie, he unfortunately served little purpose other than to remind me that Eva was attractive, thus his personality suffered a great deal.
I experienced a lot of enjoyment with the segments that depicted the history of Castle Blackwood. They were, without question, my favourite parts of the entire book. Janz did a fantastic job in creating an unnerving and engaging atmosphere through the voice of Calvin. It’s one thing that always fascinates me, yet it’s mostly overlooked; the origins of monsters and locations. I wish more authors delved into the past, gave snippets of information relating to where their story really began. My personal opinion is that it can benefit the ambience, and overall give an additional sense of foreboding.
The horror aspects here were rife with explicit, and often violent, sexual themes. To be honest, they suited my tastes, so I can’t complain. Gabriel was an exceptional entity (again – I gravitate toward depraved monsters), and so he held my attention throughout. Actually, I’d probably consider him one of the few memorable monsters to date.
In conclusion: The first half had a strength that the second lacked. I couldn’t get over the implausibility of certain events, and the repetition of others. What I did enjoy was the monster himself and the chaos he inflicted, as well as the periodic glimpses of the past.
The song she sang, though sweet and soothing, expressed my mourning – the mourning of a now-past epoch in my life, the death of a more innocent time when such childish indiscretions brought only a gentle remonstrance and a grin.
© Red Lace 2018
I keep seeing this author around and I’ve been curious about his books. This sounds pretty hard core, and I think I’d have to be in the right mood to enjoy it.
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Jonathan Janz is super popular in the horror world. I’d certainly recommend his books, but yes, from the two I’ve read, he does like to include disturbing content.
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