“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
“Never before did I comprehend the depths to which Man could fall, nor did I grasp how precipitous his descent could be.
But fall I have.
Every good thing I once possessed is lost or in mortal danger. And though it is base selfishness on my part, I can’t help but gaze with dread into my own abyss, an encroaching danger exceeding the flesh, a peril far bleaker than mortal harm.”
Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.
But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.
Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.
“I understood his anguish, had wrestled with it myself. Very frequently, life wasn’t fair. And God was the easiest scapegoat. If He was omniscient, the hurting heart demanded, didn’t He know when something bad was going to happen? And if He knew, and He allowed the terrible thing to occur, wasn’t He devoid of feeling? Or worse, wasn’t He a cruel, pitiless deity rather than a loving one?”
I never took the opportunity to read Exorcist Falls in the years it was available through the now deceased Samhain. Despite the praise being thrown about by all who had read. It may have been due to the clunky as shit cover art (seemingly a Samhain staple). I know that as readers, we are warned against judging a book by it’s cover but first impressions are important, and this made to book unappealing.
I received my introduction to Jonathan Janz brand fiction in 2015 with the solid Wolfland, with a second serving shortly after with very solid Children of the Dark. Which was Janz’ first release through Sinister Grin Press. And that felt like a match made in heaven. So when SGP, a publisher who understands great fiction and that an appealing read should be garnished with an equally appealing cover, announced the release of Exocsist Falls, a sequel to Eorcist Road (included in the release) I was pretty stoked. That exciment was cemented when I saw one of the coolest covers ever. Couple that with the fact that I haven’t read a demonic possession novel in quite a while, consider me primed and ready.
Whew. Exorcist Falls is a hell of a ride (pun intended, of course), but in a conflicting sort of way.
First off, the opening passage, Exorcist Road, was awesome. I had a great time here and I feel a bit guilty not having taken the communion wafer earlier. The set up was solid, the execution equally so. And highly entertaining to boot with exactly what I was looking for in the gristle and bloodshed department. The twists were nice, although the red herring was offered up with a little bit of heavy hand. The story was really compelling and was everything that I was wanting at the time, a gnarly exorcism story to satisfy my fascinations.
Which leads directly to Exorcist Falls, a direct sequel kicking off days after the exorcism, kicking off in pretty spectacular fashion might I add. Falls is also pretty awesome, ramping up every aspect of Exorcist Road to the Nth degree. I can’t really get into the book without dropping some major spoilers, for Falls and more drastically for Road, so I will remain coy. Suffice to say that if you’re going into this read with any sort of bloodlust, it will satisfy.
My biggest hurdle with EX-Road was that I wasn’t fully on board with the character of Father Crowder, which I feel is a big factor in the pure enjoyment of the book. The same holds true with Falls. After an impressive opening scene, setting up an epic game of cat-and-mouse, Falls feels like it gets sidetracked. The subsequent scenes are great, tense and bloody, but the felt to me like a distraction from the main thread. They are awesome scenes, but the don’t push the narrative. The overlaying confrontation seems to take a back seat for a bit, which caused me to start wandering a bit. It’s just a little nuisance, but with the type of reader that I am, a little nuisance can be all it takes.
“As always, the dark waters fascinated me.”
It looks like my score is going to be a low-ball when compared to my peers’ thoughts, which in some contests means that it gets thrown out automatically. Despite my minor grievances there is a lot to enjoy in both of these tales. I’d say that Exorcist Road is worth the price of admission on it’s own, and whatever fun you have with Exorcist Falls is the cherry on the sundae.
And If I had to give it a number
I’d say 4/5. That feels right.
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and/ or publisher and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which 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.”
Since then Jonathan’s work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Ronald Kelly, and Bryan Smith; additionally, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal have sung his praises. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, “Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side.”
His most recent novel, Children of the Dark, received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the “Top Ten Horror Books of the Year” (September 2015-August 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German.
Jonathan’s 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 www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, on Instagram (jonathan.janz) or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
Praise for Jonathan Janz
“A perfect choice for those missing old-school Stephen King.” –The Library Journal on Children of the Dark “A horror storyteller on the rise.” –Booklist “One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene
“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, multi-published author
“Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror–Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows–will find much to relish.” – Publishers Weekly on Savage Species
If you’d like to feature Jonathan Janz or review Exorcist Falls, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.