The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

Published by Flame Tree Press

Synopsis:

Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’s most brilliant and horrible creation. The Dark Game. FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

This book is a tribute to horror writers and horror stories, delightfully meta in its approach and even makes references to some of this author’s previous works.

The premise is a competition for authors, the winner having a powerful platform to publish their new work. This is a wonderful way for the author to explore the power of storytelling (always something I enjoy) and the power authors wield through their words.

The writing style is tense and compelling, which is something I now expect whenever I pick up a book written by Janz. This story spans between the present, the backstories of each character and also snippets of their writings, seamlessly pulling the reader into the story and bringing all of the characters to life. The characters are all very well developed and have their own distinctive personalities very early on, which is why I think this book is my favourite that I’ve read so far by this author, it’s going to take a lot to topple this from its pedestal!

As well as fast-paced, gory and psychologically horrifying, I found this story to be quite thought provoking. It considers a variety of ways that horror can be expressed, from violence, mental abuse, gore, paranormal forces – so the horror begins building from the very beginning and growing right up until what I found to be a very satisfying conclusion.

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