At the start of twenty-twelve, I posted my review for Jonathan Janz’ debut novel The Sorrows which you can read here. While I won’t go through all the gory details again (of which there were many in this book), I want to reflect on my initiation into the world of Janz with you today.
I think we can all agree that the Samhain covers leave something to be desired. In fact, some of them are downright cheesy. For example, the lithe body lying still on a couch behind a handsome cartoonish figure with blood dripping from his lips on the cover of Elena Hearty’s Donor did little to whet my appetite for vampires. I will sing the praises of her modern vampire tale until I’m blue in the face, but if it didn’t have the Don D’Auria / Samhain Publishing stamp of approval on the spine, it’s highly likely that I wouldn’t give it a second glance. Of course, we’re here to celebrate Samhain this week, not bash their cover design, but my point is this: you can’t be sure of what horrors lurk in between the covers of a Samhain book. This publishing house really puts that “Don’t judge a book by its cover” phrase to the test.
Still, I do. We all do. It’s partly residual survival instinct I suppose. We have to process the images we see and there’s just not enough time to become acquainted with what’s inside, whether that’s regarding our fellow human beings or a book. I took one look at Janz’ cover for The Sorrows, skimmed the synopsis, and concluded that this would be a slow burning atmospheric story. The Sorrows is not a slow burner. It’s actually a well-paced crackling thunder roll of violent eroticism with beastly undertones. Sounds like a delicious wine, huh? Tagline: The Sorrows, it’ll get ya fucked up! Excuse my language, but this book really brings out the sass in me.
When I started this novel, I kicked back with a glass of dry red, relaxed my mind, and let Janz lead the way fully expecting to be lulled to sleep. I don’t mind slow pacing necessarily and atmospheric is OK, but I really have to be in the mood for it. As I mentioned already, this book was full of surprises. Instead of a romantic trek on a well-worn trail, Janz was tugging me along through a dark overgrown path, my arm threatening to rip from its socket. He’s romantic like that. Did I mention that there were sex-deprived beasts in these woods? I’d bring protection if I were you, it’s a dangerous place.
I think all horror fiction fans felt like they would be in good hands with Samhain Publishing once Don D’Auria took the helm of their new horror line. Having familiar names like Ronald Malfi, Ramsey Campbell, Greg F. GiFune, and W.D. Gagliani made us all feel right at home. In addition to some recognizable faces, D’Auria has brought on new blood as well and these voices prove to be full of promise, including the aforementioned Janz.
There are publishers and small presses that boast amazing covers, but, ultimately, if you have a fat piece of steak sweating juicy butter on the outside and dry overcooked meat on the inside, it’s only window dressing. At this point, Samhain could put out a book with Sponge Bob Square Pants on the cover and I’ll give it a whirl. That’s how much confidence I have in Samhain and their team.
Of course, they can’t all be winners. Let’s face it, we all have our own peculiar tastes when it comes to horror fiction and every book you read can’t hit all the right notes everytime. However, it looks like Samhain is making a pretty ambitious go of it!
Come back tomorrow as we continue to celebrate the new home of horror, Samhain Publishing, as I probe one of the latest editions to the family, author of The Sorrows Jonathan Janz.
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