Friday 20 February 2015

REVIEW: Jonathan Janz - The Nightmare Girl

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: 6th January 2015
Pages: 304


This review of The Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz is the result of a copy sent to Ginger Nuts of Horror in exchange for an honest review.

So all I see on peoples feeds at the minute is Jonathan Janz this Jonathan Janz that. All I could think is who is this guy and I must check him out. I was then delighted to get a copy of The Nightmare Girl to review for Ginger Nuts of Horror. Did I like it? Read on…….. (The fact I have since bought another 5 of his books might give it away though).

Joe Crawford is returning home with his wife Michelle and daughter Lily when they stop for gas. In the station, Joe witnesses a young mother abusing her toddler son. He doesn’t stop to think and immediately does the honourable thing and confronts her. This results in a huge argument and fists are raised before the mother makes a quick exit. The police are called and the child taken from the mother into care. This is the start of a situation that spirals so quickly out of control for Joe and his family that it looks doubtful anyone will survive. Especially where the “cult” is concerned. They want the child back and they want revenge.

I can now see what all the Jonathan Janz fuss has been about. This guy can write. The concept of this story is one ordinary, hardworking guy doing the right thing. Often as not though the nice guy gets the raw end of the deal. That happens to Joe Crawford. In abundance. In the beginning you can do nothing but applaud him for his actions. He deserves a medal. But as things start to go wrong you can’t help but feel sorry for the man and his family. He is a genuinely nice guy and you can see where things are going for him and it doesn’t look pretty.

His unlikely ally in all of this is the police chief Copeland. Their first meeting doesn’t go that well and you think they are going to be battling each other throughout the story. What comes of that is a wonderful friendship that develops so so much it brings a smile to your face when they are in scenes together. The sarcastic and often dark humour between the two is fantastic and breaks up the story every now and again and gives you a breather between the scary, fast paced bits.

And plenty of those bits there are. There is a certain creepiness to this story that takes me back to watching old horror films in the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was just a young kid. The ones I used to watch without my parents knowing and regretted for days after because I couldn’t sleep. The ones that seemed to concentrate on devil worshipping cults in some remote town in the back of nowhere. The ones that made you believe something like this could happen anywhere in the world. This books does that – makes you believe. You feel genuine fear when reading segments of this. There are the good old fashioned “someone pops up out of nowhere” bits. The “long, slow build-up of tension” bits. The “holy shit, run man” bits, and the “look with one eye closed at all the blood” bits.

In short this book is very bloody good. It’s old school horror. It has characters that you can’t help but cheer when they are the good guys and can’t help but absolutely hate when they are the bad guys. It will scare the crap out of you repeatedly. It will make you laugh. It will give you a lump in your throat at times. You will hold your breath. It also has one of the old classic mad mental endings that will have you rushing to turn the pages.

Just superb!

General rating:

★★★★★ Absolutely loved it. Highest recommendation

Horror rating:

★★★★★ I need a change of pants.

See more at Ginger Nuts of Horror.

You can buy The Nightmare Girl here:

Book Synopsis:

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror. 

Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that 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.”

In 2013 Samhain Horror published his novel of vampirism and human sacrifice 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."

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 see more about Jonathan at his website.

Jonathan's author page is here.

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