Zakk reviews “Wolf Land” by Jonathan Janz. 312 pages published by Samhain Horror (Samhain Ltd.) 2015.
“He started toward the forest, keeping to one of the wheel ruts that threaded through the weedy lane. He should be feeling giddy about this, about seeing the old gang and catching up. Instead he felt like he was marching to his execution. But rather than a climb to the gallows and a snapped neck, he’d be tortured slowly, the last decade of his life vivisected by everyone who’d thought he’d make it big.
Who were no doubt delighted he’d failed.
Mike faltered and stared at the forest’s rim. He shouldn’t be here.”
An unholy predator on the prowl!
The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.
The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.
“He looked the same. That was the remarkable thing. Sure, there was a strained expression on his face, maybe a slight shadowing below his eyes, but absent that, he looked just the way he always did. Hard and pitiless.
But Glenn didn’t feel hard. He didn’t feel pitiless. He felt like he deserved punishment for what he’d done.
Who the hell was he kidding? Of course he deserved punishment. He deserved death, if the magnitude of his crimes were the only consideration here.”
Man am I glad that Werewolves are having a resurgence, a chance to let loose and bark at the moon. The Lycanthrope has always been a favorite classic beast of mine, the ferociousness is always a joy to behold. Suffice to say that I was quite excited to have a Werewolf yarn as my first ever Jonathan Janz read, and let me state now that I will do my best to make my acquaintance with is back catalogue.
I dug Wolf Land, I dug it quite a bit.
Taking more of the beastly human image rater than the full-on beast, Janz brings a monster that is no less savage. There is viciousness galore in Wolf Land, and it is glorious.
Bouncing off of a great opening scene, a tale of survival builds between multiple beasts and an ancient hierarchy. With each wolf, like its’ human counterpart, having different trigger warnings and altered personalities. I dug all the characters populating this novel, with Weezer and his arc being a favorite. I loved how his character changed and how he embraces the change more so than the rest on the cast. Garner’s arc is also rather satisfying.
There are a few distractions during the read, though. For me anyway. The restroom scene early on between Glenn and stranger, and later a library scene between Glenn and Joyce. Two scenes where character interaction has an odd, drawn out pace that threw me a bit off balance. But this is splitting hairs here. It’s really a small thing in the grand scheme of things. And every time the beast wins me back.
Wolf Land is a great read, not for the squeamish. Mr. Janz, what’s next? Cause I’m in.
“Glenn nodded. Nodded but didn’t do anything. Not until Weezer turned and regarded them with a grin that was more than bloody, that was far worse than cruel.”
Overall score: 4.5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
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**Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”
2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, “Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror–Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows–will find much to relish.” Jonathan’s Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.
Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a “Rousing-good weird western,” and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014’s top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan “Horror’s Next Big Thing.” His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.
His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at http://www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene, best-selling author
“It’s the best of its kind I’ve read in years, such that I’d call it “The Quintessential Haunted House Novel.” You’ve taken the old school traditions of the form which readers want and then have injected modern style, characters, and macabre, hard-edged mayhem into the guts of the story. THAT’S the way to do it, my friend!”-Author Edward Lee on HOUSE OF SKIN
“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.” –Tim Waggoner
“Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, this should please readers who appreciate a good haunting.” —The Library Journal
“A 10-year high school reunion is the catalyst for lots of furry, toothy scares in this gruesome yet entertaining gorefest.” –Publishers Weekly
“Probably the best werewolf novel I’ve read in a decade.”- Pete Kahle, author of The Specimen
“If you like werewolves, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. Highly recommended.” -Confessions of a Reviewer
“This fast-paced read was a frenzy of carnality in epic proportions. Visceral and surreal, Janz has outdone himself with this newest title.”
-Nikki, Horror After Dark
“For years now, the werewolf has been hijacked by the shifter romance genre. Well, Jonathan Janz has claimed a bloody morsel back for the horror genre!”
-2 Book Lovers Reviews
“Janz is the literary love child of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (with a little Joe Lansdale DNA in the mix), with all the terror that implies. Try him out. You won’t be disappointed.” -Pod of Horror
“Jonathan Janz has created a realistic world and peopled it with characters that could be people you know then introduces a whole new werewolf legend to rip them to shreds. I highly recommend this relentlessly fast paced story. A hair raising 5 star read.” –Horror Maiden Book Reviews
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