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Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Truth be told, I’ve been reading a lot of Janz stuff over the summer, but I didn’t want to make it a Summer of Janz thing (though that would have been a wee bit cool). So I had to spread it out, a bit. The latest that I just read … nay …. Consumed was The Darkest Lullaby. Another dark, twisted delicacy that will most likely give most folks sleepless nights especially if they live next to wooded areas. Be warned.But enough with the blooming pleasantries and let’s get on with the bleedy review. Yeah?
Apparently when it comes to writing horror Janz, in some cases such as Lullaby, dispenses with the foreplay and goes straight in to it. And then eases back into the foreplay, and builds up to the final climax (both metaphorically and literally). Interesting? Never thought about that … oh, wait ignore that part, that’s just a detour … nothing to look at. Or analyze. Lullaby starts off with a young woman giving about to give birth (sometime in the 80s) and it ends with her baby being taken away by a Rasputin-type figure, named Gerald Destrangis, and strange woman into a forest. I know, not much and it doesn’t exactly give you the hibby-jibbies … except this Janz we’re dealing with here and in the first chapter (yes, the FIRST) things went from normal to downright dark and sinister. And just when you are about to brace yourself for the oncoming onslaught … we meet Chris and Ellie (Eleanor) Crane. Married for a few years and hailing from Malibu (and a crappy apartment), they moved to Indiana to settle in a large house with a lot of many acres of land. This house was inherited by Chris from his late aunt Lilith. And though Indiana is quite a change from Malibu, the living situation is quite an upgrade for Ellie, though the house does have some creepy aspects. And just when things couldn’t get any better, Ellie discovers she is pregnant, after trying for quite some time. Seems like the move to Indiana is a good omen of sorts … but, yes, this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Funny thing about Lilith (nothing major or significant): prior to her passing she was part of an unholy cult that dabbled in blasphemous, dark rituals that involved sex, blood and sacrifices (let’s say we’re not talking about chickens on this one). Like I said, nothing major or significant.
And then the strange stuff begins (yes, you read correctly). Ellie starts seeing strange things as she explores the creepy (but big house that could hold a nice nursery room for her child). In one she encounters a strange alpha-male type man that chases her, from a secret room filled with ghastly images, with sinister and/or carnal intentions in his wild eyes … only to have both seemingly vanish. Chris, on the other hand, is exploring the large property, a land filled with woods and clearings and even a lake … until he encounters a strange naked woman walking in the woods … and ends up succumbing to a strange sexual encounter that he can’t quite recall (I hear those are usually the best ones assuming they are consensual … or tolerable at most). Oh, another not-so interesting thing about Lilith: prior to her passing she hated Ellie (with a passion) and had a strong attachment to her nephew, Chris. How strong you ask? The kind of attachments that you read about in Penthouse Forum (or so I’ve heard). And yes, bloody gross. But there it is. Needless to say, Chris starts to slowly change (and not for the best) and seems to constrain himself to two activities: taking walks in the wooded areas and writing a book that he forbids Ellie to look at. Wait a minute, sounds familiar? Sexual encounters with strange women, change in attitude, “writing” a book, living in roomy building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Red rum (minus the spooky twins). But if you think I’ve spilled the beans on this book you sadly mistaken. Not even close. On top of all things, there is a snarky real estate agent that tries to talk Ellie and Chris out of the property but for some strange reason wants to buy it. As the red flags mount, Ellie decides that it is time to leave, unfortunately the forces that be have other ideas and leaving that house is not going to be easy. To make matters worse (yes), Ellie sister shows up out of the blue and … the shit hits the fan. And it splatters red … and maybe a bit brown.
Lives intersect, and dark twisted secrets come to light in the dark … some sinister and terrifyingly deadly. And yes, there are some terrifying twists that accompany this Christmas tale, that WILL keep some awake for a few nights … or at least be wary of strange, naked women that you may encounter in wooded areas (hint: you might think of walking …nay, running in the next direction). Alas, Jonathan Janz has done it again: for some, another anti-sleep cure … and for others, a thirst for more of his terrifying fiction. Will this poor man be able to keep up with literary thirst he has created? Time will tell (and I hope this will goad him into spitting out more books). Caution to readers (because you’re my mates and all): don’t become attached to characters (trust me). .

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Why, yes, it is another Jonathan Janz book and I can’t seem to get enough of his horror writing. And no, I’m not being paid one quid to promote his stuff (gasp!!!), and I actually like his stuff. And apparently he’s listening to my thoughts and writing tons of books every year. Maybe I should keep that part about him “listening to my thoughts” to myself. Too crazy? Oh well, enough with the bollocks and on with the review. Yeah?

Roderick Wells is the most celebrated yet reclusive writer in the world. So when ten “lucky” writers are offered an exclusive invitation to his summer-long writing retreat, their dreams are aglow with riches and literary fame. They, however, are instructed not to tell ANYONE about this invitation since that would be an automatic disqualification. Maybe it’s just me but that qualifies as red flag behaviour. I’ve seen enough horror movies that start with that premise … they never end good. Or maybe I need to get out more. Maybe. The winner of this contest gets three million dollars and a recommendation to the publisher, of their dreams, to publish their books. Upon arriving the participants are made to wear blindfolds and are taken into a strange forest that has a Gothic-type mansion in the middle of nowhere. Yes, more screaming red flags that even Stevie Wonder can see on a dark, moonless night. Among the writers is Lucy, an actual published Young Adult (YA) writer that had great but short-lived success with one book and has yet to write another for over a decade. There is also the unpublished Rich and rising star Elaine. And there are few sociopaths within, Anna and Bryan. During their first meeting with an old Roderick Wells and his alluring youthful wife, Amanda, Rich receives a scary premonition about Roderick. And the shit hits the fan. With no access to the Internet but a great sprawling library available, the writers have to create stories and everyday are selected to read their stories to everyone else (I once took a class like that … one the best English classes I ever took in college). The genre was selected by Wells and it turns out to be (wait for it) … horror. Yes. Writers that are found lacking are treated to acidic criticism by Wells who make Simon Cowell seem like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. And they are eventually “eliminated” or as Wells would put it … “sent home”. Sort of like saying that the ailing Fluffy was being sent off to that “wonderful” farm to roam freely with all the other animals. Even more disturbing is that the eliminated writers tend to leave without their possessions, which Wells’ manservant, Wilson, claims that he’ll take care of it. Sure thing, mate. The strange thing is that as writers become “eliminated” Wells seem to get younger and strange things start to appear in and around his mansion. Maybe it is just the atmosphere. Yeah, and I’m the Queen of England. Strangely enough, what started out as a seemingly random gathering of writers turns out to be anything but. They are all bound by pasts filled with misdeeds and skeletons (some literally) in the closet. And no … I’m not going to spell out those misdeeds that ranged from bloody sleazy to viciously disturbing. Yes, I’d be a tosser if I robbed you of all the fun. So there.
Roderick Wells is Hannibal Lector (without the cannibalism … I think) meets Julie Andrews (minus the cheery demeanour) with a hint of Dracula (minus the fangs … I think). A good portion of the book was dedicated to revisiting the sordid, dark pasts of these writers, which adds beautifully to story and will easily evoke emotions for these characters. Basically those you’d love to see live or die (gruesomely). But be careful and choose wisely (or play it safe and don’t choose at all), because this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Don’t become attached to characters. You’ve been warned. Enjoy the read.

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Yes, I know. I didn’t post anything on September, and the Evil Parrot will gladly admit to cocking up big time. Was pretty busy at work (yes, the library gets pretty hectic) and then I went to Vegas. Aye, gun ranges galore and jamming with rock bands at the Fremont Experience (Element 67 and Alter Ego crushed it). Everything else falls under the “whatever happens at Vegas” grouping (spoiler alert: not much, since I’m very chill). So I shall make up for my September misdeeds and offer you not one, nor two … but THREE reviews and since it is October, they are all Jonathan Janz stuff. Yes, it is like a book review grindhouse (and yes, I may have aged myself, since most folks may not know about grindhouse movie theater days … where you paid to see TWO movies instead of one and they consisted of violence, gore, and the occasional sexploitation). Great son and dad moments (and I mean that). But enough about Vegas, grindhouse movies and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blooming review. Yeah?
I am being spoiled by Mr. Janz. Within a two year period, my book review blog has become littered with his stuff. And I’m about to do some more littering. So much (awesome) horror writing. And after every book, I’m like Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire: I want more. And it seems as if Mr. Janz is more than happy to oblige. If we ever cross paths, Mr. Janz, there is a pint with your name on it my good man.
The cover and the title , Wolf Land, spares little in alerting the reader what this book is about: werewolves. But be warned there is, a disclaimer in the beginning of the book (yes, I kid you not), promises that this is not those romanticized tales of werewolves … dear heavens, no. Feel free to put thoughts of Kate Beckinsale running around in body hugging latex out to pasture … then again … Alas, it gets quite dark, and viciously disturbing. Even some horror book taboos may have been crossed (if there is such a thing). Aye, there is more than just fictional victims being ripped to shreds here. The story begins with a bunch of former high school mates meeting up in a wooded area (it always a wooded area … what gives Janz) for some kind of party. The usual bollocks: kegs, beer, barbecues and hopes of shameful, drunken bouts of the old in-out, in-out. Sometime during this gathering, a stranger crashes and intrudes on the party goers. After taunting them, he changes into a werewolf and attacks them, and it is quite a vicious scene. Some die and a few survive. Among the survivors are an odd assortment of characters: Glenn Kershaw (a jock type with a cool Vette); Joyce (a librarian … YES !!! … that has a crush on Glenn); Duane “Short Pump” Mckidd (an occasional butt of jokes); Weezer (a typical wimpy, loser type); Savannah (a single mother with an adorable kid named Jake); and Melody Bridwell (who is secretly being used as a weekly rape toy by her father and four brothers … yes, you are reading right and the dark stuff hasn’t even been touched as yet). Now unlike that usual bollocks about the full moon, these werewolves can simply turn due to triggers that could be atmospheric, emotional or possibly certain foods (I’m not spelling it out and ruining the story for folks). There is even an interesting twist to this tale where some of the turned survivors not only change physically but psychologically. Some turned out to be latent psychotics and used their new-found abilities in terrifying and very, very disturbing ways. Sides of good and evil are drawn, and like most Janz books the bets are off on just about everyone. Try not to get attached to ANY of the characters. Though some wankers do
get their due, there is enough piles of bodies that would leave most folks shaking their heads at the end of the book … and wondering about the next book. And think people were shocked over the Red Wedding in Game Of Thrones. And yes, I did go there GoT folks.

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Ever since read The Siren and the Spector and Savage Species, Jonathan Janz’s horror writing has become as a warehouse-sized blood bank with me, as a vampire, trapped inside of it. Another way of saying it’s like being a kid in candy store … oh who am I kidding … I’ve got brilliant folks that take the time and come read my humble little blog. Dreadfully sorry. I truly hope that Hollywood would put some of his work on screen because, seriously speaking, the horror scene in Hollywood SUCKS. Badly. Case and point: millennial themed Truth or Dare and Wish Upon. And the list goes on … and I won’t rant on this bollocks … for now. So when The Nightmare Girl by (my newly minted favourite) horror writer landed on the stacks, I basically went feral and pounced on it. Interesting note: this my third Janz book within a six month period. But who cares? And enough with the pleasantries and other such bollocks, and on with the bloody review. Yes?

Joe Crawford is a contractor that repairs homes. He has a beautiful wife, Michelle, and a daughter named Lily. Delightful little family. One day as Joe was filling up at a gas station, Joe observed what can be easily pass for child abuse as a young feral –looking mother scolds her child viciously. Though others simply watch on (or resorting to tosser acts such as recording on their smartphones) Joe decides to take action and intervene. He soon finds himself assaulted by not only the child’s feral-looking mother but also the child’s grandmother (who is quite a bit of work herself). The authorities arrive arresting the mother (Angie) and grandmother (Sharon). Leaving the child, Stevie Waltz, with the Crawfords for a few days until foster reassignment. Several days after her release from jail, Angel Waltz pours some gasoline on her body and lights herself afire … but not before stalking the Crawfords and menacing them. When Joe sneaks into the cemetery to observe the funeral of Angie Waltz, he finds it not only odd but unnerving since it is not like your typical funeral: strange rituals and utterances in a Latin-like language. Unknown to the Crawfords is that they have stumbled onto an ancient fire cult that is very vicious with strange dark rituals, and are not exactly the type to invite you over from tea and crumpets. Soon strange things start to happen to the Crawfords as Sharon Waltz (the grandmother) threatens retribution on the entire family for not revealing where her grandson, her only ties to Angie, foster home location. Police Chief Daniel Copeland is tall Afro-American, wisecracking, no-nonsense police chief and is thrown in to this strange conflict that is brewing between the Crawfords and this cultish clan. He’s also an avid Nicholas Sparks reader.
Just when things couldn’t seem to get any better, an old house that next to the Crawfords that went unsold for many months was finally bought by a charming older, high-society type (and somewhat sexually adventurous), couple called the Markers: Mitch and Bridget Marker. What’s even more intriguing is that they seem interested in hiring Joe Crawford for a lucrative remodeling of the large mansion type house. And though Joe is appreciative of the work, there is in the back of his mind that there are too many coincidences, especially when Bridget seemingly has the hots for him … with ulterior motives. To add to this, his assistant, Kevin Gentry, has started to behave a wee bit odd. And as the world seems to close in on the Crawfords, they find an ally in Daniel Copeland which they will need as things quickly take a frightening and sinister turn as some twists, in the story, would reveal that some people aren’t whom (or what) they appear to be.

Nightmare is one of those atmospheric horror pieces that keeps teasing you into believing that scary stuff is waiting on the next page but it doesn’t yet it builds in the anxiety at each turn of the page. Legs will be crossed, bladder and bowel systems stifled because when the shit hits the fan it will be brutal and vicious and prisoners will not be taken. And it will happen as casually as a stroll in the park. You won’t see it coming. And as always, I caution folks as they venture into a Jonathan Janz terrorscape: try not to get too attached to characters.You will thank me for that bit of advice. Mr. Janz, you are spoiling me.

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I am in love with the horror writing of Jonathan Janz. It is vicious, scary and sometimes downright dark (and possibly disturbing). In other words, books to curl up with at the fireplace with your bearpaw slippers, as you sup on milk and cookies. What? No. Or so I’ve heard. But enough about my … um, reading habits and let’s get on with the bleedy review. Yeah?

Needless to say, the cover of this book conveyed all the fear that it could possibly entail and then some (feel free to look at the cover … intimidating, yes …. well, good). Species originally revolves around two groups of people: Charly and her husband Eric; and a local newspaper crew (Jesse, Emma, and Colleen). Charly is a housewife with a newborn and two daughters (and apparently scorchingly hot) that is married to cheating wanker of husband named Eric. Apparently Eric is a volleyball coach that has thing for younger assistant coaches (who … surprise, surprise … often turn out to be young women). Despite his cheating, the thorn in his side is Sam Bledsoe, a contractor that is doing some renovations to his house. Yes, Sam is slightly older, divorced, knows a lot about home renovations (despite Eric’s awful, ignorant micromanaging) and a good looking, manly man-type. I imagine him as Sam Elliot in his forties (what … I like Sam Elliot … think what you want). And unlike Eric, Sam is actually decent to Charly and not because she often agrees with him over her husband’s ridiculous suggestions on home improvement. The truth is Sam Bledsoe is a decent chap (kinda like Sam Elliot … I’m never going to live that down, am I … very well). On the other side is the equation is a local newspaper crew consisted of Jesse, Emma and Colleen, that are on assignment to cover the opening weekend of a recreational park area called the (refrain from laughter) Peaceful Valley Nature Preserve. And there is a bit of soap opera going on here. Apparently Jesse has the hots for Emma but loves her from a distance. Colleen is a no-nonsense woman but, gleefully, senses this about Jesse.
Though it is not exactly the assignment they dreamed of they arrive at the Nature Preserve expecting a crateload of boredom and instead finding a college frat party. And rivals to Jesse’s affections. During the first evening, the three explore the grounds and the forested area with a large river where Jesse encountered a winged-monstrosity of a shadow in the night sky. At first he thought it was just some environmental effect wreaking havoc with his vision. And then there were the strange sounds. The woods that line the housing developments have always troubled Sam Bledsoe, for at night he always found those woods unnerving. Meanwhile, Charly is in the process of putting her children to bed, when she encounters a strange, naked, (over nine feet tall) humanoid creature with green eyes and feral teeth standing in her newborn’s room. Before she could scream, the creature grabs her newborn and leaps from a second story window and runs off into the woods. Back in the Nature Preserve, Jesse is standing the shadows of the woods watching Emma flirt with a jock-type when suddenly a bunch of tall creatures (think subterranean creatures of Descent except slight taller and some near Cloverdale sized) ran out of the woods and proceed to slaughter everyone at the party. What is even more disturbing is that some of these creatures, bearing exaggerated-size organs (that would probably give the likes of Ron Jeremy an inferior complex), and aside from mauling, engage in rape (of mostly deceased females). And then, the real horror begins (yes, you’ve read correctly).
Species is little under 300 pages, and the first 30-50 pages there is calmness. Beyond that it is ongoing, relentless intrigue, ghastliness, gore and … horror. And Janz does not make it boring or repetitive. It is possibly the first horror book I’ve ever read where the action stretched over several hundred pages. And along the blood-splattered journey we encounter Frank Red Elk. Yes, Frank is wisecracking Native American that has lived near and the preserve for many years … and knows about the existence of these monstrous creatures. He is also a porn aficionado. And as the two groups paths converge, they find themselves under the guidance of Frank, who not only makes it his duty to “compliment” some of the women of the group by telling them that they resemble certain porn stars but would at the most inappropriate times (usually when their lives were in peril) decide to discuss the differences between soft and hard core porn. Yes, I must confess (shamefully) that I visited Google on several occasions and found myself transported back to my Cinemax days that featured many of Frank’s infatuation. BTW, who still watches Cinemax … just asking … not judging.
Species IS a train ride of terror, where all the doors and windows are welded shut with steel bars, the cabins are splattered with blood, the brakes are destroyed and the end of the line results in the train plunging into a deep chasm. And the passengers know this. Sure it might give you some sleepless nights if you live near wooded areas that are filled with strange nightly sounds and I apologize to my mates that live in certain New England and Southern States. Caution to readers: try NOT to get too attached to the characters. Game of Thrones has nothing on Species (and don’t worry, I won’t detour by ranting about the last season … it’s probably been said ad nauseum). Jonathan Janz, I love you. Maybe more than Sam Elliot. Maybe.

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I’ve been watching a bunch of recent “horror” releases on DVD and it is sad to report that the art of horror movie making is becoming an endangered art. Has anyone seen that pile of buggering bollocks called Searching? Aye, at the end of the movie you’ll be “searching” for those 90 minutes of your life that you gave to watch this “thriller”. Thankfully, the world of literary horror is alive and doing quite well. I keep running into such delightful writers (i.e. through books that appear on my stack). So as I was reading the synopsis of Siren, I was, most naturally, intrigued especially when Mr. Janz was being heralded as the next best thing in modern horror. And maybe it was that exquisitely haunting book cover. So enough with the pleasantries and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the bleedy review. Yeah?

David Caine is a famous skeptic of the paranormal/supernatural world. That’s just a nice way of saying that this bloke doesn’t believe in ghosts and other such bollocks. Then one day, David is invited by an old friend (Chris and his wife Katherine) to spend a month in the most haunted house in Virginia: the Alexander house. A house built in the 1700s by a land baron to simply contain the depraved whims and fancies (sprinkled with a shitload of madness) of his eldest son, Judson. As David takes up the challenge and moves into the Alexander house, he finds himself surrounded by the strangest set of neighbours: a family that rewrites the definition of dysfunction (nymphomaniac housewife with a penchant for kinky porn/sex with a very enabling husband and two children are witnesses to the ongoing debauchery), a very reclusive neighbour that fishes and own shotgun, a no-nonsense female sherriff, a fiery woman that reminds him of a past love, and a precocious convenient store clerk. It doesn’t take very long for things to go bump in the night (actually on night ONE) and the novel does keep up the pace … and then accelerates. There are very dark ulterior motives and secrets at play and some folks aren’t what they seem to be … or know. Along with demons of the past of certain woman that he turned away (with tragic consequences) David is forced to deal with crazy neighbours, strange happenings going in the Alexandria house and strange woman that haunts the nearby bay with an alluring singing voice (in case you missed it, that would be the siren). But in that little hamlet, in Virginia, things aren’t all they seem, dark forces and secrets are coming forth, some folks know more than they’re saying and there are things that are going bump in the night aside from David’s new randy neighbour. David skepticism in the paranormal is about to take a flying leap out the window and to make things worse, he is closely evaluating his friendship with Chris. Stars, paths and events align from his past, reach out and converge with his current quest in the most shocking manner that will cause your jaw to drop right into that puddle of fright-induced piss.
Though he has written prior to this title, this is my first book by Jonathan Janz and it impressed the heck (among other things) out of me. Siren spares little, starts early, and amps up the terror that’ll make you, calmly, put your book down and turn on a few more lights in the house, especially on a cold windy night. With tree branches hitting your window. And though the art of horror movies are fast becoming a dying art, it is pleasant to know that written horror forges on with newer faces and talent. I look forward to his next book … as I try to get some sleep.

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It is October. The scariest month in the year. Halloween, trick or treating, and horror movie marathons on AMC, SYFY and just about any cable network that has a pulse. And so I decide to read something a wee bit scary. This is one of those “whispery” books that beckoned to me at my branch. Yes, I am beginning to think that I need to get out more when books start “whispering” to me AND turn out to be great reads. Secret superpower? Or the immense need to socialize more? Whatever, mates. But enough with the bollocks and let’s carry on, yeah?
It starts out in London where a newly engaged couple is setting up plans for an impending wedding. Meet Adam Holzer, a not-so-religious Jew from Long Island, and his bride-to-be Meryam Karga, a former Muslim turned atheist. Aye, love in the twenty-first century. So strange, unusual yet so delightful. Oui? Non? They’ve both co-authored books based on their high-climbing adventures around the world. So when an earthquake reveals a secret cave on Mount Ararat, in Turkey, the fearless duo wants to be the first to find out what’s in the cave. The cave is actually the buried remains of an ancient ship that many believes to be Noah’s ark. And so Meryam cancels her wedding and the two heads off to what seems to be another adventure. So along with a team of scholars, archeologists, filmmakers, one UN representative, and an undercover DARPA agent, they ascend Mount Ararat. There is a team of guides, headed by an early established wanker named Hakan Ceven, the lead the way to the caves. Upon entering the caves, the territorial pissings begin between the different groups in view of this historical find … until they discover a coffin with a cadaver with HORNS. And then the shit hits the fan. For the most, such as yours truly, would have called it a day and started my descent, but of course that would bring the book to an abrupt and crappy end. So the team decides to indulge their curiosity and the reader is in for a case of the heebie-jeebies … on steroids. So needless to say, things started to go bump in the night (aside from the occasional couple from the team that decides to indulge in a bit of the old in-out, in-out) and blood started to splatter, as team members started to disappear and feel strange things in the cave. Bloody hell. Pun possibly intended.
Ararat in nutshell is The Thing meets the Exorcist meets Fallen (there goes that Rolling Stones song in my head) meets the Mummy meets Cliffhanger. A lot of meetings if you ask me. Enough to make you want to keep the light on at night and would probably suck if you were camping, found a deep cave, and this just happens to be the only book you brought to read on your hike (yeah, sweet dreams on that one, luv). Golden weaves a terrifying tale with so many twists and turns that hurtles in break-neck speed towards an ending that leave you stunned shitless (possibly requiring a cleaner pair of undies). Caution: try not to get too attached to any of the of the characters. You’ve been warned. Good reading …and um … sweet dreams

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