Hi and welcome to another #BiteSizeSaturday! Bring your flashlights, and if you happen to have a katana lying around, best grab that too, cos today we’re going over to the dark side, let’s go!
A Dark Game is about 10 writers who are invited to an exclusive writing retreat by Roderick Wells, a renowned but rather enigmatic author. It’s all very hush-hush: they can’t tell anyone where they’re going, they’re not allowed to bring their phones, they’re brought to the middle of nowhere without a clue where they are, but wherever they are, they don’t have internet access there. They’re not overly worried, sure Wells is very reclusive and a bit eccentric, but at the end of the day, he’s just a harmless old man, right? Wrong! Little do they know that they are pawns in a very dark game of chess, and it’s not becoming a published author or winning prize money that’s at stake, it’s their lives…
I love books featuring authors and I love Janz’s writing, so this was most definitely a win-win! I’ve always believed that there is power in stories, but A Dark Game takes it a few steps further.
There was a lot of information to take in at first, and I needed a minute or two to get all the writers straight in my head, but as they further evolved, that got easier and easier. The interaction between the writers is great, a lot of cattiness and competitiveness and there’s the mystery surrounding Wells, which I figured out before any of the writers did but oh who even cares! Like in most of Janz’s stories there’s some sexual depravity as well, a bit of nudity here and there, but not overly so. While I don’t think it’s a necessity, I don’t mind it if my horror comes with a bit of sex if it furthers the plot, but if you like your characters fully clothed at all times, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. There’s also a nod to Janz’s novel The Siren and the Specter, very Inception, loved it!
The Nightmare Girl is about a man trying to save a toddler and a cult hell-bent on his destruction.
Joe is filling up his car when he notices a young mum, Angie, abusing her child. A father himself, Joe is appalled and goes to intervene. Not only does Angie not see the error of her ways, she completely flies off the handle and attacks Joe. Unpleasant to say the least, but when all is said and done, everyone can just go back to their lives, can’t they? Well… not exactly… See, the abused toddler is put in foster care and his mum and grandmother blame Joe, and these are not normal people (= they’re mental, they’re absolutely mental). And then Angie goes and douses herself in gasoline and strikes a match (See? Mental.). Naturally, Joe is blamed for that too, and Angie’s extended family is ready to make him pay for all his sins, and the more it hurts, the better…
Welcome to Crazytown, USA! Such a fun place to be! As a reader that is, you wouldn’t want to be trapped in this particular town, there’s more than one nutjob roaming the grounds! But as a reader I very much enjoyed my stay. The constant tension, the overall menace, the pure evilness and craziness of the majority of the characters, and the pure goodness of Joe to counteract all that. I don’t often connect with characters in horror novels, but Joe is such a good guy and such a great father and I really loved him.
The Nightmare Girl is violent horror on the one hand, but insidious horror on the other hand: you get bloodied and maimed but at the same time you know there’s evil lurking in the corners and God knows what it has in store for you next… If you like your horror on the bloody side and don’t mind a ripped-out heart and a few third degree burns, this is the one for you!
Thanks for joining me today! I hope you’ve enjoyed our little horror expedition! Are you a Jonathan Janz fan like me? Is horror your bag, or not at all? Do let me know below!