Monday, April 6, 2015
The Nightmare Girl, by Jonathan Janz
THE NIGHTMARE GIRL starts off with a bang, as contractor Joe Crawford and his wife witness a young girl, accompanied by her mother, abusing a toddler at a gas station. Joe intervenes, and soon comes to wish that he hadn't. After a violent altercation with Angie Waltz and her mother, Sharon, events spin out of control: Angie has her son taken away from her, and soon takes her life, violently self-immolating herself in front of Joe. Joe, feeling needless guilt over his part in the event, attends Angie's funeral, watching the service from afar. But this is no ordinary funeral service....Angie and her mother were part of a Satanic Cult, and the mourners aren't going to be content with getting a buzz on while they reminisce about Angie. They're out for blood, and soon Joe and his family will find their lives turned upside-down in a nightmare of brutality and violence.
Author Jonathan Janz excels at charicterization, and THE NIGHTMARE GIRL is at its best while the mystery of the Cult is unfolding. Janz crafts an atmosphere of dread and paranoia, building to a bloody crescendo, and that's where the book kind of falls apart. The end is an orgy of blood and guts that reminded me more of the "Crazy '88's" fight scene from KILL BILL, VOLUME ONE than the conclusion of a Horror novel. I didn't dislike the end enough that it ruined the rest of the novel, but it was a pretty abrupt change of pace, going from paranoid Horror to brutal revenge fantasy in the span of a few pages. I also felt that the climactic bloodbath went on far too long, losing impact as it went on, ultimately becoming the literary equivalent of a violent video game.
However, since the Satanic Cult sub-genre is so rarely added to, I will give Jonathan Janz's THE NIGHTMARE GIRL a slightly qualified recommendation.
The author provided a review copy.