Man, I’m behind on my book reviews. Life has really gotten in the way lately of … well, I guess … living. In the next day or two I’ll be trying to catch up here so stay tuned as there have been some fantastic reads.
Here are two to start with: “Life in a Haunted House” by Norman Prentiss, and “Children of the Dark” by Johnathan Janz, two coming of age stories that are both brilliant, yet couldn’t be more different from each other.
Life In A Haunted House – Norman Prentiss
“We all want magic of some kind.”
Life in a Haunted House is a multi-layered marvel, as intricate a novel as one could hope to conjure, and yet despite its carefully constructed narrative it reads as a simple coming-of-age story, something Prentiss has long mastered. Paying tribute to B-horror movies and the nostalgia that children these days will never fully appreciate, Prentiss plays a quite clever sleight-of-hand, keeping our attention focused where he wants it while the real story develops around us, engulfing the reader before they’re aware of what’s occurred.
Beautifully drawn characters, full of heart and courage but also flawed in a way that make them real, combined with an unconventional telling and unreliable narrator. It all adds up to an experience you won’t soon forget. This is a story you won’t want to end.
Norman has several tie-in stories as well available on Amazon that capture the movies discussed throughout this book – just one more layer to add to make this experience so unique.
Children of the Dark – Johnathan Janz
My first trip down Janz halls. Children of the Dark starts as a coming-of-age tale that is masterfully spun. If you don’t come to care about these characters in the first half of this novel, there’s something wrong with you. (But don’t worry, there’s something wrong with me too).
One of my biggest gripes with the horror genre is that gore and scares often tend to overshadow character development, and yet without giving us a reason to care about the characters it’s impossible for us to feel afraid for them. Janz takes his time setting up a great cast that feel remarkably real, so that when the horror begins you have a reason to sit up and take notice.
The second half of this novel was a completely different beast from the first, and while this is where the payoff comes for us horror junkies, there were moments where it felt a little too much and dipped into familiar tropes that could have been avoided. Still a quite stellar experience, and a book I would definitely recommend. Looking forward to revisiting more of the Janz hallways soon.