Old-fashioned storytelling. Fast paced plot. Well-developed characters. Awesome elements of horror. The Sorrows from Jonathan Janz delivers it all! Read on for exciting information and review of this book!
I read Janz’s novel, The Sorrows (his debut with Samhain Publishing’s new horror line), a few months ago and it’s been percolating for review for enough days that I just had to complete it before it crept anymore inside my head and made me go mad. That’s right, this book hooked me and I am not about to find the time to go to the insane asylum anytime soon so I’ll need to let the beast onto the page and hope it doesn’t rip it to shreds! Ok, it’s typed on a screen, I know. So how about I just tell you how great this book was instead and subdue the monster.
First, the book teaser for The Sorrows:
The Sorrows, an island off the coast of California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925. But its owner allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their friends to stay in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is the setting Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film. But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A being, once worshipped, now imprisoned, has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.
So what did I think about The Sorrows?
First of all, don’t you love Samhain covers? It draws the reader into the book before they even open the pages. But that isn’t all that is great about this book.
Following in the line of some of the great horror novels I’ve read lately, this one was right on par with the newer horror novels I’ve been enjoying that are full of mystery, suspense, fantasy, superb storytelling, and of course, an element of fear. Not a former reader of Richard Laymon or Richard Matheson myself (ummmm….both named Richard?), two writers I’ve heard Janz being attributed to in writing style, I will just have to tell you my own thoughts. (And yes, please don’t judge me for not reading any other master of horror other than Stephen King. I led a very sheltered life growing up.)
Reminiscent with the storytelling of Edgar Allan Poe, with a jolt of modern-day horror flick to round out the plot, The Sorrows certainly introduced several different styles. I did (and do) read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and Janz integrates influential lines and references to Poe that give it the dark, eerie, calculated feel of Poe text. I loved that about this book. I really liked how he worked this fantasy story, which was about an ancient family secret, and melted it with the contemporary plot of two present day film composers being sent to the island to write a musical score for a horror movie. (The horror movie which in fact is his next book House of Skin, coming this year).
Set the scene with an ominous castle on a fog infested island, a real jerk of a guy who likes to exploit women, another guy who is struggling with his musical muse, and two women with self-esteem and/or revenge issues and you’ve got the making of one screwed up house party.
Once they get to the island (which took a little bit of time, I suppose setting up characters and building the scene, but wish it had moved a tad faster), I am reminded of the show Harper’s Island. If you watched it, the show was killer (no pun intended) and reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but set on an island village where each person slowly gets knocked off until we find out who is the murderer. The Sorrows reminded me then, not being a longtime horror connoisseur, of an Edgar Allan Poe tale meet Agatha Christie meet Harper’s Island, with some violence and explicit sex rolled in. And yes, be warned of the explicit sex. There is quite a bit of it.
It did have an element of old-fashioned horror movies, like Alfred Hitchcock who I adore, but also with some cheesiness of the type many people love from those 80s horror films. In addition, there is a touch of the normal issues and disputes among people and in relationships, as well as some romance, all while they are fighting a supernatural demon who can easily fool you by seeking out your weaknesses and using them against you. And there is an interesting story behind this fearful demon that you’ll not want to miss.
If there was much blood, I didn’t notice it because the plot propelled me forward through the story. That’s how I like my horror. It’s the way Stephen King does it, right? Storytelling is an art and horror should be a slow burn type of fear or dread, not just gore. But yes, there were acts that would have been bloody for sure had I been a character in the story watching it unfold before my eyes.
The story also jumps between chapters taking on characters from generations before, and an old family dilemma at the castle, to the present day activity. This adds an element of history, secrecy, and mystery to the book. In fact, I loved this part of the book the best and its ultimate resolution.
One of Jonathan’s wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon. Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.