I was a bit late to the party when it came to discovering the work of Jonathan Janz. As a result, I totally missed The Sorrows when it was originally published by Samhain Publishing in 2012. When Samhain ceased operations in 2017, many great works went out of print, including this debut from one of the most popular horror writers working today.
Last year I read my first Jonathan Janz story titled Children of the Dark. I absolutely loved it. Janz expertly fused together a gruesome horror story and a nostalgic coming-of-age tale. The monsters in that book—the lithe, tall, insatiably hungry Wendigos—were a formidable enemy that I enjoyed reading about as they went on a blood-soaked rampage.
Jonathan Janz’s name is everywhere lately. With Flame Tree Press sneaking up out of nowhere and snatching his back catalog, and his most recent effort The Siren and Specter making the rounds of Twitter feeds and Instagram posts alike, he’s hard to ignore. It was only a matter of time before I broke down and read my first Janz. The Nightmare Girl was the book that deflowered this Janz virgin.
It was almost two years ago Jonathan Janz first came to my attention. I kept hearing about his novel, Children of the Dark. This is what I said in my review of that work: “This is one time where all of the hype was dead on.“
I lived a good chunk of my childhood on a small, rural road. All of the homes had families and were fairly well-kempt, so my siblings and my best buddy who lived next door didn’t really have a typical “haunted house” to be afraid of; but that didn’t keep us from concocting weird stories about the surrounding property. That creepy orchard up the hill? A kid my mom used to babysit for convinced us that he had seen a severed hand from World War II hanging from a tree up there (yep, from that famous WWII battle fought in Upstate New York, of course). Then there was the turnaround where I swear I saw a UFO land one night (okay, maybe that was just a dream). When you’re a kid, your imagination runs wild, and seemingly innocuous places can transform into terrifying locales. Jonathan Janz can relate—he read a story back in seventh grade that touched on just that idea, a story that stuck with him and put him on a path to creating strange stories of his own.
Reviews for Children of the Dark, the new novel from Jonathan Janz via Sinister Grin Press, have been flowing freely for the last couple of weeks, and if I’ve seen one reference to Stephen King’s “The Body” or Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, I’ve seen a dozen. Each time I’d think, if I was Jonathan Janz I might ask people to ease back on that, because…talk about setting expectations on “High.”
Then I dug into the book itself and, well, I can see where those other reviewers are coming from.