Book Reviews

{Review} CASTLE OF SORROWS, by Jonathan Janz

{Review} CASTLE OF SORROWS, by Jonathan JanzCASTLE OF SORROWS by Jonathan Janz
Published by Samhain Publishing on July 1, 2014
Genres: Horror
Pages: 346
Format: Hardcover
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You can’t escape the creature in the catacombs!

A year ago composer Ben Shadeland traveled to the Sorrows, a reportedly haunted island off the California coast, to find inspiration for a horror movie music score. Instead, he found madness, murder, and an ancient evil. His family barely survived the nightmare, and Ben swore he’d never return to the island or its accursed castle.

Now Ben’s infant daughter has been kidnapped and Ben is convinced that the malevolent creature that lives in the catacombs beneath Castle Blackwood is responsible. Ben joins three federal agents, a sultry medium, and others in an attempt to save his daughter. But what awaits them is far worse than they ever imagined. The creature—an ancient god named Gabriel—has grown more powerful than ever. It has summoned unspeakable monsters to the island—both human and supernatural. And Gabriel won’t rest until he has his revenge.

CASTLE OF SORROWS, by Jonathan Janz is the sequel to his first novel, THE SORROWS.  While the majority of the book takes place on the island known as The Sorrows–and in Castle Blackwood, itself–we do get to see the sole survivors from the first novel; Ben Shadeland, his son Joshua, new wife Claire, along with their infant daughter, Julia.  For myself, it was exciting to get back into the lives of these characters.  However, the focus soon turns mainly to Ben and a new set of characters, entirely.  As much as I enjoyed THE SORROWS, Janz really takes it up a notch in regards to his writing in this tale.

As I’ve come to expect from this author, his atmospheric setting is practically a character itself–permeating every aspect of the novel so that the oppressive fear, and “wrongness” of the island never leaves the reader.  One of my favorite comparisons of this location is:  “. . . this whole island . . . It’s like a geyser through which the flames of hell are pouring. It’s concentrated evil.”  Janz uses his words not only to describe physical occurrences, but also to connect us to the emotions the characters are feeling.

“. . . The music wasn’t echoing through the walls.  It was bleeding through the walls . . .”

Make no mistake, this author knows his craft.  I particularly enjoyed how he interspersed the back stories of his characters throughout the novel, giving us a little at a time–almost teasing us with the way the connections are clicking into place.  Rather than just “tell” us their stories, we are able to virtually “live” them with the people they are connected to.  This really helped to cement them in my mind as actual people.  There is no shortage of vivid descriptions, either, to give further illumination as to the emotional distress our characters are assaulted by.

“. . . The odor of something that had been chewed on but not devoured by the bottom feeders in the sunless depths . . . the hair was swamp black, rotten skeins of seaweed threading through it like vomit-colored extensions . . . “

Although this tale is technically centered around the legendary Gabriel, kidnapped “son” of the late Robert Blackwood, his presence is mostly “felt” or projected throughout the majority of the novel.

Perhaps my favorite quote in the book that summarizes my own interpretation of the haunting, unwelcoming, discomfort of the island is this:  “. . . This place was as haunted as they said, only it was worse, because this wasn’t just a place of ghosts, it was your own personal ghosts that resided here . . .”

Another fantastic read from an author on my “must-read” list.

Highly recommended!

About Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal. His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter (http://jonathanjanz.us12.list-manage….), and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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