Review: Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz

Rating: ★★★★☆+

Synopsis

Will Burgess is used to hard knocks. Abandoned by his father, son of a drug-addicted mother, and charged with raising his six-year-old sister, Will has far more to worry about than most high school freshmen. To make matters worse, Mia Samuels, the girl of Will’s dreams, is dating his worst enemy, the most sadistic upperclassman at Shadeland High. Will’s troubles, however, are just beginning.

Because one of the nation’s most notorious criminals—the Moonlight Killer—has escaped from prison and is headed straight toward Will’s hometown. And something else is lurking in Savage Hollow, the forest surrounding Will’s rundown house. Something ancient and infinitely evil. When the worst storm of the decade descends on Shadeland, Will and his friends must confront unfathomable horrors. Everyone Will loves—his mother, his little sister, Mia, and his friends—will be threatened.

And very few of them will escape with their lives.

Review

Thanks to the narrator for a listening copy of Children of the Dark in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this LC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Feels like it has been a hot minute since I wrote my last review, not to mention I finished Children of the Dark almost two (2) weeks ago. I was slammed work-wise right before going on vacation and there was no way I was going to write reviews when the food and drinks were flying.

Well, here I am, back in Birmingham, caught up on work, jamming out to Mac Miller (RIP) and writing a review for one of my new favorite horror authors. Janz first reeled me in with Exorcist Falls, taking exorcisms to the next level and leaving me wanting to dive head-first into more of his library. Children of the Dark goes down different path, taking on the coming-of-age trope and giving it a murderer-on-the-loose/unknown monster vibe which clicked automatically.

Having read only two (2) of Janz’s novels doesn’t disqualify him from being one of my go-to creature feature writers. I have several friends on the Twitters and the Gram that cannot stop talking about this dude and it is easy to see why. He takes these tropes that have been beaten to death over and over for years, but breathes new life into them, giving newcomers to the genre(s) a fresh glimpse into why horror is making a huge comeback. It isn’t just about the body/creature/enviro/cosmic horror; it is about being able to relate to the characters, their drives/motivations, and standing behind them even when they make some of the dumbest decisions you have ever seen. It is about rooting for them to survive, and hopefully saving a few people along the way.

Children of the Dark felt like one type of novel, sort of Halloween-ish with a murderer on the loose, but quickly changed gears into an all-out creature horror flick. It is a brutal novel filled with hidden secrets, blood, gore, and some freaky-ass monsters, not to mention a fantastic protagonist that had me in his corner throughout the entirety of the book.

I knew that I had to get to this one quickly as Janz mentioned a Book 2 on the way, and considering my buddy Matt G released the audio very recently. If you enjoy creature horror, don’t mind the coming-of-age trope, and are in need of a close-of-summer read, don’t miss this one.

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