Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When the Moonlight Killer breaks out of prison, Will Burgess and the rest of the people of Shadeland live in fear of the vicious serial killer returning home...
Yeah, it's a lot more complex than that but it's hard to write a teaser than encapsulates teenage love, a serial killer, and supernatural horror without making a mess of things.
Children of the Dark is a coming of age horror tale in the tradition of Boy's Life, The Traveling Vampire Show, Bay's End, and, of course, The Body. Can it hang with the big dogs of the sub-genre?
Yes. Yes, it can.
In Will Burgess, Jonathan Janz crafts a sympathetic lead. Will's father died years ago and his mother is a pill-popper, leaving Will to raise his six year old sister, Peach. On a side note, Peach is adorable. Will plays baseball, has a couple of good friends, and is ass over tea kettle for Mia, the girlfriend of his arch-enemy.
When Carl Padgett busts out of jail, the whole town goes into lock down. It just so happens that this coincides with the time Mia invites Will to hang with her and her friends in the woods. See where this is going? I haven't even mentioned the titular Children of the Dark yet!
After seeing a strange creature in the woods, Will's friend Barley tells him of The Children, giant evil monsters supposedly living underground in the cave system below Shadeland. They reminded me of eight foot tall versions of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
Anyway, Janz does a great job juggling the suspense of having a killer on the loose, the creeping horror of monsters in the woods, and the everyday horrors of being a teenager in love. When everything finally comes together, the book goes into survival horror mode and no one is safe!
As I read this on the plane to San Francisco, I kept looking at the other passengers, wondering why they were so calm with monsters on the loose and a serial killer serial killing people.
Apart from a twist I saw coming about ten pages into the book, I have nothing bad to say about this book. It's a gripping read and well worth the kindle price of only $2.99. I'll definitely be reading more Jonathan Janz. Four out of five stars.
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