The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz (take two)

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.

Dreadful Tales Giveaway: The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

It’s a Friday Giveaway at Dreadful Tales and we’re gifting two ebook copies of Jonathan Janz The Sorrows! You can read my full review here. The quick version is you got an engaging story with plenty of sex, violence, a bit of music and a lot of mayhem! I am very anxious for people to read Janz’ first novel, so I decided to host this giveaway and hopefully get fans as excited about his work as I am. All you gotta do is leave a comment telling me one of the following:

(1)   Your favorite Richard Laymon novel and why

(2)   Your favorite ghost / haunted house story and why

(3)   What horror fiction release you most look forward to in twenty-twelve

Hell, you can even deviate from those three topics as long as it’s horror related! That simple. Leave a comment, enter for a chance to get a digital copy of Jonathan Janz The Sorrows.

I’ll choose the two lucky readers on Sunday evening so you have all weekend to enter. Tell your friends and tell them to tell their friends, tell your mom and dad even! But I hope they’re not easily offended because Janz is unabashedly gruesome to his poor characters which is just the way we like our fiction at Dreadful Tales.

Good luck!


The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

Twenty-twelve is gonna be an excellent year for horror fiction fans. I got that sense compiling the list of Dreadful Tales’ most dreadfully anticipated releases for this year, but also because I opened the year with a novel that really got my blood pumping. Jonathan Janz’ The Sorrows came out in December 2011 from Samhain Publishing, just in time to kick the doors off this mutha, giving every fiber of his creative being to make the reading community take notice. You might be thinking “Jonathan who?” “Janz what?” But I’m going on record to say that by the time this year is over, you shall know thy name Jonathan Janz!

Genre fans quickly made themselves at home with Samhain Publishing, especially with a trusted name like Don D’Auria at the helm of their horror line. While D’Auria brings macabre vets over to our new playground, he’s got some fresh meat for us to feast on as well, namely the aforementioned Jonathan Janz.

Lately, we want for nothing in the genre of speculative fiction – hell, did you see all those titles coming out in 2012!? Janz’ sophomore effort among them. But just when you thought you couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the promising future ahead, Janz shows up to the party with a breath of fresh air. Ok, maybe the air has a bit of a stench… and within it hides a slobbering beast, threatening to violate you in unimaginable ways. Still, for those that crave new blood, it’s here and Samhain has found him.

From Samhain:

Something is trapped in the castle, and it wants to feed!

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain an eerie and reportedly haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. For something is waiting for them in the castle. A being, once worshipped, now imprisoned, has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.

You remember the first time you read Laymon? Of course you do. ‘Member years later, discovering a child of Laymon, someone a lot like you, someone a lot like him, carving their own niche in the horror genre? That’s Jonathan Janz! He’s no doubt influenced by other subgenres and horror forefathers, not to mention drawing from his own non-literary artistic influences, but the parallels between Janz and Laymon in The Sorrows is evident. He adopts the successful Laymon pace, a popping and crackling burn, with a writing style that reflects his own intimate passions and interests. The plot speeds along, like your father at the wheel on a summer road trip, determined to get from point A to B, refusing to pull over to give his desperate passengers a bathroom break.

The Sorrows has a Gothic influenced setting. A desolate castle on an isolated island off the coast of California gives this story all the makings of a dark atmospheric tale, but that’s where the parallels to the shadowy romanticism characterized by Gothic tales ends. While The Sorrows is often romantic in tone, you’ll hardly have time to coo over the scenery while you hold your lover’s hand because Janz will disrupt any tender moment with horrifying mayhem. Every soft reprieve is destroyed by a shocking assault. And for this reader, there is no better drug. Janz is a little trickster, perhaps not intentionally, in setting up the reader for a ghostly supernatural yarn when The Sorrows is really a vicious, sexy beast of a novel.

Not only can you draw strong parallels to the Dreadful Tales God ‘O Literature, Laymon, the violent eroticism is also reminiscent of Richard Matheson’s Hell House, which surely by no coincidence gets a passing mention. Even in the hands of a skilled writer, name-dropping a horror film can come off forced, like you’re trying to be cool, but Janz cleverly tucks it into just the right place with a wink and a nod to welcome you home. Since our main protagonists are film composers, working in particular on a horror film, Janz takes advantage of the opportunity to make that connection to his readers more than a few times.

Speaking of music composition, that is another very important, driving force of the plot. Janz scores his novel with the haunted notes of an unnatural beast, a supernatural force reciting its song with a humble ardor. He exhibits an intimacy with music in The Sorrows that can’t just be feigning interest. Another author that incorporates his music obsession into his work fluidly and with a piercing impact is John Everson, of course most notably in Siren (which I consider an Everson masterpiece). Based on this first book, Janz will likewise offer his readers the same aural stimulation in his stories.

Peppered throughout The Sorrows are diary entries from one Calvin Shepherd, inhabitant of this damned castle around 1925, who recounts his experiences on the island, which piece by piece reveal the secret of what preys on our four protagonists – Ben, Eddie, Claire, and Eva. Did I forget to mention them!? Janz has a strong past voice, another attribute I deeply love about Everson’s work. This anchors the story with historical context making it more horrific and disturbing, but also giving the author a chance to flex other literary muscles, i.e. introduce Gothic and poetic elements.

For all I reveal about Janz’ literary prowess, there is much more to discover. A terrible monster is waiting to leap out from the darkness, aching to dig its claws into your skin, never letting go, with an undeniable concupiscence that cannot be satisfied. (“Concupiscent” is a beautiful word I learned from reading The Sorrows. Who said reading horror isn’t educational!? Definitely not anyone at Dreadful Tales!)

For all lovers of the macabre and readers looking for a dark, sinister literary treat, gather ‘round, fiends, Jonathan Janz has a story to tell you.

The Sorrows is available in ebook format from Samhain Publishing, but for those who haven’t crossed over to the darkside yet, the paperback version will be available in March. Keep your eyeballs peeled for the release of Janz’ second novel, House of Skin, due out this summer. And don’t forget to stalk his Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website.

Dreadfully Anticipated 2012

Dear Dreadful readers, we have a great 2012 ahead of us because there a frightful number of horror titles clawing there way to your bookshelves and e-readers this year. While our film-obsessed horror brothers and sisters discuss the state of dismal box office turnout and the exhaustive onslaught of remakes, reimaginings, and reboots, we’ll be celebrating the hard work and dedicated efforts of some of the best in genre literature as well as meeting some fresh faces to the scene. Every year seems to get better as my to-read list climbs to new heights and the outlook for 2012 is no different. Here is a list of the releases we are dreadfully anticipating this year, in no particular order.

The unfolding of Monica S. Kuebler’s online YA vampire series Bleeder

We’ve mentioned Bleeder a few times now, but it is timely to give it another shout because Chapter 2 just went live yesterday! If you haven’t been reading along, go back and check out the first two chapters in the series and buckle in for the exciting saga of Mildred “Mills” Millhatten as her life is turned upside down by a long dormant family secret. Monica S. Kuebler calls Bleeder “pitch-black urban fantasy/horror crossbreed” for teens, but I can assure you this will be enjoyed by adult readers too. A new chapter will go live every Sunday, so mark your calendars! Visit the Bleeder website here.

Jeff Strand’s Faint Of Heart (February 2012)

Jeff Strand just made an announcement this past Thursday about his upcoming novel Faint Of Heart via his website, Gleefully Macabre, with a very simple but enticing teaser followed by a peek at the cover:

Some of you prefer my funny stuff.

Some of you prefer the more serious stuff.

For those of you in the latter category, on February 1st there’s…

We are huge Jeff Strand fans here at Dreadful Tales. Hell, I even got dressed up like the guy and went strutting around town because I admire him so much! I like the funny, I like the serious, I’m just happy when he’s releasing new work! Faint Of Heart is due out February 1st, so keep your eyes peeled on Strand’s Facebook page and website for the deets.

The Hunger Artist by Lisa Mannetti (TBD)

Lisa Mannetti just announced via Facebook a few hours ago, at the time of writing this, that she is starting her next novel, tentatively titled The Hunger Artist, so I can’t say for certain that is will be published in 2012. Regardless, I am as pleased as punch to hear there is a new book on the horizon from this Bram Stoker Award-winning talent. I have no synopsis to tease you with or cover art to entice your eyeballs, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted as information becomes available. In the meantime, you can stalk her Facebook page and visit her website to stay abreast (stop giggling, Colum!) of everything Mannetti.

Everything Greg Lamberson is releasing! (April 2012, June 2012, October 2012)

Greg Lamberson has at least three books coming out in 2012! Yes, you read that right, three! And he may even have some super top secret book that he’ll squeeze in before year end as well, but we’ll have to wait and see.

First up from Lamberson is his zombie road novella, Carnage Road, out from Creeping Hemlock Press’ zombie line, Print Is Dead, in April. I scanned the aged wall postings of my Facebook to find the original blurb Lamberson used to describe this novella, but without success. If memory serves me right, he said it’s “Dawn of the Dead meets Easy Rider.” If that doesn’t sell you, read Colum’s glowing review that just went live yesterday. Lamberson also put together a book trailer where he puts that filmmaking experience to good use! Carnage Road is due out April 3rd, 2012, which is also my birthday, so plug that one in your calendar! Creeping Hemlock Press has an obvious eye for talent and they’re quickly becoming my favorite indie press, so stop by their their website to see the other horror titles they offer.

Second on the agenda is the long-awaited follow-up to Lamberson’s werewolf novel The Frenzy Way, The Frenzy War. Already available for pre-order, The Frenzy War is due out in June 2012 from Medallion Press. It’s been almost two years since we left our hero, Detective Tony Mace, and I am anxious to catch back up with this hunka hunka burnin’ love fearless protector of humanity. Tony, if you’re reading this, call me!

And finally, the third book Lamberson will release this year is the fourth installment in the action / horror mashup, The Jake Helman Files series, Tortured Spirits, due out in October 2012 also from Medallion Press. This is a truly epic series with a badass paranormal detective, Jake Helman, and a whole host of monsters. If you haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, make it your top priority! Otherwise, Detective Helman might come kick you right in the groin! Find out more about the fourth book here.

House of Skin by Jonathan Janz (Summer 2012)

I just recently finished Jonathan Janz’ first title published by Samhain Publishing, The Sorrows, and it really blew me away. I will be posting a proper review soon, so I won’t elaborate too much here now, but I will say all you children of Laymon out there will be pleased. The Sorrows is a turbo-charged, erotic horror that has passages to make the roughest biker dude blush and maybe even warm his heart! Samhain will publish his sophomore effort, House of Skin, this summer and I can’t wait to see what other sick and twisted monsters Janz will unleash upon the reading community. Read more about House of Skin and browse around Janz’ site here.

Corrupts Absolutely? anthology edited by Lincoln Crisler (March 2012)

Corrupts Absolutely? asks its readers what would happen if people had superpowers. People including the mentally unstable, social outcasts, and the regretful and bitter. Featuring work by genre favorites like Jeff Strand, Joe McKinney, Weston Ochse, and a dozen more, this anthology will undoubtedly be on everyone’s wish list this year, if it isn’t already. Corrupts Absolutely? will be available from Damnation Books March 2012.

Zombies vs Robots: This Means War, edited by Jeff Conner (April 2012)

Here is another title being released on my birthday! I don’t know who sent the memo to the publishing world, but THANK YOU! Zombies vs Robots: This Means War takes IDW’s comic book series, created by writer Chris Ryall and artist Ashley Wood, and promises it “expands it in ways that will redefine both zombie and robot fiction.” While I’m not familiar with the original series, I like a good comic and the lineup for this collection is promising which makes it worthy of an instant self-gift for my day of birth! Great concept, talented contributors, and a pretty badass cover too. You can preorder ZVR: This Means War, due out April 3rd, 2012, now at Amazon for a slight discount.

Wild 2 by Lincoln Crisler (September 2012)

Lincoln Crisler is gonna be a busy bee this year, buzzin’ all over the genre scene. Not only is he involved in the two projects mentioned above, but he’ll also be releasing the sequel to his weird western zombie novella Wild with Wild 2. There’s no cover art available to tease you with just yet because the book won’t be out until September 2012 (apparently he didn’t get the memo that all releases are due on my birthday!), but here is a peek at what to expect from the second entry.

While escorting Henry Waters to his new beginning at a Massachusetts prep school, Matthias and Juan uncover the reason for the school’s headmaster’s mysterious disappearance. Less cowboy. More questions.

Release of the film adaptation of Elizabeth Massie’s short story Abed (Spring 2012)

Abed, short story by two-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie, has been called one of the most disturbing horror stories ever written. Now, the director adapting the short story for film, award-winning writer/director Ryan Lieske, has his sights set on making it the most disturbing zombie film of 2012. Until just last night, literally right before I went to bed, I hadn’t read Abed, but being a Massie fan I was still excited to learn that one of her stories would be adapted for film. Now that I have finished Abed, I can say undoubtedly that the short is one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read and I am very curious to see how this evolves from the page to celluloid. You can pick up a digital copy for just $0.99, so you should do that right now! And just wait until you find out what “abed” means. Production for this project is in full swing and due out in my most anticipated season of the year, spring 2012! Like Abed on Facebook and keep up with one of the hardest working writers in this gory game on Massie’s website. Below is a synopsis to get your blood pumpin’.

The dead have risen … and in one small, Midwestern town, the residents have learned to cope as best they can.

Meggie lost her husband, Quint, during the early days of the undead uprising. She now lives a life of quiet horror and desperation, for her mother-in-law will do anything to help the family adjust to this new world. Even the unspeakable …

NightWhere by John Everson (June 2012)

Ever since Colum gave me a copy of John Everson’s The 13th a few years back, I haven’t missed anything by this author. His blend of erotica and horror has been perfected into an intoxicating signature style that hits all the right notes. Everson revealed some details about this project in his interview with Dreadful Tales here where he assures his sixth novel, NightWhere, is a return to form. More blood, more sex, more mayhem! NightWhere centers on a swinging husband and wife who are invited to a floating sex club, the titular NightWhere, where anything goes. There is no cover art available yet, but we’ll keep you posted. NightWhere will be available from Samhain Publishing June 2012. Prepare yourself! Until then, visit Everson’s website and sign-up for his newsletter to stay in the loop on everything the master of sexy is up to.

So, those are the titles we are most anxious for this year. Tell us about your most dreadfully anticipated titles in the comments section below!