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.
**Thank you to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Top notch horror featuring teenage angst, creepy campfire story monsters and bad parenting.
I could sense a strong influence by Stephen King throughout this novel, particularly in the way Janz tells his story through the eyes of a teenager in an unfair world without coming across as whiny or annoying. It reminds you of your own adolescence and how intense everything was back then – friendships, crushes, family, murderous monsters. Everything!
The main character, Will, is a 15 year old boy with more troubles than your usual teen but he’s a decent boy and works his hardest to manage his responsibilities and do right by everyone.
He’s a likable character and you really sympathise with his situation because of his attitude, despite being in his awkward teen years, he genuinely adores his little sister and takes the role of caring for her very seriously. He empathises with his peers, even the ones who seem to have made it their life’s ambition to beat the living crap out of them – he’s emotionally mature for his age, but not impossibly so.
This is very much a book of two halves, both halves as good as each other. The first sets the scene, introducing us to all of the major players in the book and instantly making you empathise with all of them even though we’re told right from the beginning that no-one’s safe. This is abundantly clear in the second half when shit gets real and an escaped convict and ancient beasts start their reign of terror on the town of Shadeland.
The funny thing is, the monsters aren’t particularly scary in appearance (at least, not to me) but they still work. I guess it doesn’t matter how scary you look if you’re ripping out someone’s throat.
Every single death in this book has an impact and the action was outstanding, the second half of the book had me riveted. It’s the very definition of a page turner, I finished this book in one very intense sitting and have found myself still thinking about the story today.
The writing style in this book screams intelligence, Janz knows how to spin a good yarn and how to make you care about his characters before he starts ruthlessly ripping them apart. He reminds you of the intensity of being a teenager, so you feel that same angst while you’re reading which is a combination of evil and genius (which go together like rum and coke).
If you like horror novels or have even the slightest literary crush on Stephen King, pick this book up and feast your eyeballs upon it.
N.B. Kudos to Jonathan Janz for using the words ‘moist flaps’ when referring to a water damaged cardboard box. I may not be mature, but I was amused!