REVIEW: Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz

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Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.

But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.

Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.


I started EXORCIST FALLS because Jonathan and I have an interloping circle, and when I saw he’d written a book about Exorcisms-one of my favorite genres to read-and was also from my hometown of Chicago … I knew I had to give it a go.

I was not disappointed in any way. In fact, I was proud of my fellow Chi-town author for a well told and frightening story. Small details of Chicago filled every part of the tale, and brought a sense of nostalgia and history only someone who grew up, or at least lived for a quite some time, in the city would know. Mentions of the “Killer Clown”, John Wayne Gacy, Wrigley Field, the Blackhawks, and Rosemary Road, gave this story the ironclad validation of being a true Chicago-based horror.

Every single character was so well developed, I felt like I knew them from the old ‘hood and stomping grounds. Vivid details allowed me to feel, hear, smell, and recreate everything in my mind. I’m not ashamed to say it gave me some wild dreams. The scene where Father Crowder is cornered by the spirit in Casey’s room is my favorite part, and the suspense was in perfect pace with the creep factor. Well done. I went back and read it again, just to savor it.

The story leads you into several different directions while you play Sherlock Holmes, deducing from the suspects presented, who the real killer is. At the same time, there is a moral reflection to be had in this book. Is evil really evil? Are people who do evil able to be saved? Can someone who is evil do good?

Jonathan is a talented writer who weaves a world of horror around your neck like a rosary, leaving you with nothing but faith to get you through dark, twisted tunnels. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work. I’m not really one who likes to compare authors to others, even though I understand it helps establish style when recommending them. Some have compared him to Steven King, but I have to disagree without devaluing Janz’s writing skill. He’s closer to William P. Blatty, in my opinion, not only for subject matter, but for his classic writing style.

To find out more about the author, please visit his site: http://www.jonathanjanz.com

REVIEW: Dark Homages II by HR Arswyd

A collection of “weird tales” in the tradition of Lovecraft, Aickman, etc. with contemporary influencing including Moore, and Lansdale.

Dark Homages II: Ill Met by Moonlight by [Arswyd, H. R.]

 

Let me just begin by saying, in this collection of five stories you will get a variety of stories ranging from ethnic influence as well as style influence. I love HR Arswyd’s range in story telling.

Each story takes you on a journey through a different time period and you get a strong sense of what it was like in both description and language. Arswyd’s knowledge, and understanding of the story as well as the characters shine through with with elegance and poise. What I mean is, you won’t be met with words dug out of a thesaurus for the sake of being “pretty”. Each word is carefully laid out and presented. Being a self-published author isn’t easy, and for that, minor flaws add to the value of this diamond in the rough. There is a classic simplicity in how he pieces every story together, proving the author is not only well-read but writes for the passion of writing. This is an author to keep an eye out for.

REVIEW: BirdBox, Josh Malerman

Bird Box: A Novel by [Malerman, Josh]
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Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Boxis a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.
Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?
Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?
Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.
 

BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman proves how important having a good cover is. I choose to read his book by the look of his grungy, but simple, cover.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know the author was before this book came out but when I began reading it, I couldn’t put it down and added him to one of my favorite authors.

This is the kind of horror I love.

The story unfolds in a slow, peeling of details-none of which give away too much-until you find yourself sliding blindly into dread inducing scenes. Reading this story I was brought back to my childhood around the age of five or six. The moment of heart-racing fear as I stood, peering into the darkness of my room. I knew my room back and forth in the light. In the dark, it became strange and unusual with shadows forming creatures the moonlight would animate until I was convinced … there were creatures all around me of supernatural origin.

“The children were asleep under chicken wire draped in black cloth down the hall. Maybe they heard her moments ago on her knees in the yard. Whatever noise she made must have traveled through the microphones, then the amplifiers that sat beside their beds.”

This scene from the first page, is creepy and curious on its own but then …

“The walls are dirty. Dirt from the feet and hands of the children. But older stains, too. The bottom of the walls in the hall is discolored, profound purples have dulled to browns over time. These are blood.”

Malerman knows how to tease your curiosity and lead it down a rabbit hole. I had no idea what to expect next until I turned the page. Was it supernatural? Was it a person? Why were the kids in cages?

The level of story telling from cover to cover reminded me of Hitchcock with his blend of every day normal, mixed with a profound “strange”. When it was all said and done, I sat in silent reflection before I could put together my thoughts. I saw everything in my mind, and yet, there was enough left to imagination for it to plant a seed and grow.

In this world, everyone is blindfolded in some way. According to a “Russian Report” people have turned on one another in unexplained acts of violence. A very reminiscent plot to THE HAPPENING, except now we’re adding the variable of being in a world with these crazy events without one of your most used senses … your eyesight. Navigating a home or a small enclosed backyard is difficult enough. Being completely blindfolded as you try to navigate yourself and two small children past the familiarity of your home into a boat … is terrifying. Marry the thought of protecting your children with the thought of being unable to see what direction danger will come from, and you have the perfect scary story.

What I loved the most about the book is feeling the suffocating anxiety each of the characters experienced as if I was there with them … I felt as if I was blindfolded, too, even though I was reading the words with my own eyes. As a mother, I empathized with Malorie whose love for her children forced her to make choices she never might have made in a “normal” world. Raising children is hard. Danger lurks everywhere. They could be kidnapped, hurt, or worse. Removing the ability to see danger, perhaps avoiding it, would probably be my worst fear.

This being my first review on my blog, it was a no-brainer. I know and work with a lot of authors. It was no easy choice for me. Each voice has its own talent. I narrowed it down by choosing to begin my book reviews with an author I don’t work with on a daily basis.

As my luck turned out, I got to work with Josh Malerman on the anthology, PRIMOGEN: ORIGIN OF MONSTERS where you can find his short story, BASIC SHADE, along with original artwork by Greg Chapman.  I strongly urge you to read his work. His mind is a long, dark tunnel into strange and wonderful things.

ABOUT JOSH MALERMAN
Josh Malerman is an American author and also one of two singer/songwriters for the rock band The High Strung, whose song “The Luck You Got” can be heard as the theme song to the Showtime show “Shameless.” His book Bird Box is also currently being filmed as a feature film starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, and Sarah Paulson. Bird Box was also nominated for the Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the James Herbert Award. His books Black Mad Wheel and Goblin have also been nominated for Stoker Awards.

 

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