The Dark Game: Jonathan Janz (Kendall Review)

The Dark Game – Jonathan Janz

Reviewed By Steve Stred

You want to know a sad reality? Like, a reality we’re living in that will possibly make you cry once you read it? OK – maybe grab some tissues. Got ‘em? OK – here we go. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)


I know right! This is the reality of 2019 and you know frankly I’ll just go sit quietly in the corner and wait for you all to settle down. (Wow eight DM’s already yelling at me about that. You guys are fast. But passionate and that’s acceptable.)

You see, last year I only managed to read Children of the Dark and it was stunning.

I’d not heard of Janz before (again, yes blasphemous) and was drawn in by the cover for that novel. Once done reading it, I ordered Exorcist Falls and then pre-ordered The Siren and The Spectre. But I just never got to them. They’re coming, but I’m ashamed I haven’t read them yet!

So – The Dark Game. 10 writers are invited to the mystery house of living legend Roderick Wells. At the end, one of them will be selected as the grand prize winner. Fame, fortune, publishing contract; what all writers dream about.

It isn’t hard to think that this was conjured up during a feverish dream Janz had. We’ve all been curious about visiting our literary hero’s houses, and I suspect every horror fan out there has seen Stephen King’s gothic abode. I haven’t come across who Janz considers his literary God, but I’m sure that person played a role in Mr. Wells’s demeanor.

The principle of the story is that straight forward. 10 writers of varying skill and success arrive at Well’s massive house, far off the beaten trail. None of the competitors has any idea what to expect. All they know is that the last winner of such a contest became one of the more sought after authors in the world.

From here out Janz shows his chameleon ability as a writer. We get 11 stories running throughout – Roderick Wells and each of the writers. Janz does a superb job of jumping back and forth and maintaining continuity. Even the add-in lesser characters have purpose and he ensures that they’re placement isn’t simply to write himself out of a corner.

As the pace quickens and the story unfolds, Janz doesn’t back off. We go from drama to horror and back within a few paragraphs and then back again. Suspense is high and the grounds around the house work well to keep the reader on their toes.

Without going further into detail, and keeping this review spoiler free, The Dark Game works amazingly as both a further addition to Janz’ output as well as the perfect introduction to his body of work.

Can’t recommend it enough!

Star Rating (out of 5): 5*

The Dark Game

Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. 
The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’s most brilliant and horrible creation. 
The Dark Game.
You can buy The Dark Game from Amazon UK Amazon US

Steve Stred

Steve Stred is an up-an-coming Dark Horror author. Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick.

Steve also has a number of works on the go and enjoys all this horror, occult, supernatural and paranormal.

Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog Oj.

You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred

You can visit Steve’s Official Website here

The Girl Who Hid In The Trees

Something lurks just beyond.

Centuries ago a heinous act created a ripple that still haunts the residents to this very day.

Now the kids who reside near McConnell’s Forest live forever in fear.

Jason lost his brother when he was young. He left with his friends to ‘debunk’ the urban legend and never came back.

Now Jason and his group of friends are fed up and want to discover what is happening, what is the real cause of the terror holding their small town hostage.

But something is waiting for them. She may look sweet and innocent, but the friends are about to find out that pure evil can exist in the smallest of packages.

She’s out there. And while you may not know her name or what she looks like, the local kids will tell you if you ask, that you should fear for your life from the girl who hid in the trees.

From the dark mind of Steve Stred, the author of Wagon Buddy, YURI and Invisible comes this fast-paced, seat of your pants coming-of-age tale.  A quick, violent, bleak read, The Girl Who Hid In The Trees will make you think twice about those sounds you hear far off in the woods.

You can buy The Girl Who Hid In The Trees from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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