Posts Tagged ‘werewolves’

wolf-land

BOOK INFO

Length: 314 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Wolf Land Blog Tour

Jonathan Janz is one of those authors who I have always heard great things about, both from other readers and horror authors, so I am a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first book of his I have read. After hearing tons of praise for his work and watching his excellent interview on Monster Men, I knew that I had to read one of his books. So when I was invited to join the blog tour for his latest Samhain Horror novel Wolf Land, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with his work. 

The novel focuses on a group of classmates from Lakeview gearing up for their ten-year high school reunion with a bonfire in the woods, a booze-fueled blowout just like when they were teenagers. Savannah is nervous about seeing her old flame Mike Freehafer, who has returned to town haunted by a devastating tragedy and a failed professional baseball career that ended their relationship. A trio of best friends – Weezer, Glenn, and Duane – are simply trying to have a good time by having a few drinks and maybe settling an old feud. As the party kicks into gear, it seems the worst thing the party-goers have to deal with is facing the inevitable awkwardness of their pasts.  However, those turn out to be the least of their worries when an ancient and terrifying evil is unleashed leaving several people dead or injured in the attack. The survivors’ lives are changed forever after witnessing the carnage at the bonfire and although they try to put the horrific events behind them, their nightmare is just beginning. Four of the survivors are beginning to change as the result of their injuries and their transformation will plunge the tranquil town of Lakeview into chaos and bloodshed.

Janz spends the opening moments of the novel introducing readers to his fairly large cast of characters and these opening scenes not only gives readers a good sense of their personalities, but allows them to feel like they are a part of Lakeview too. Just when you begin to settle in and prepare yourself for the horrors to come, Janz ramps up the chill factor with the introduction of the mysterious stranger at the reunion party. As people step forward to confront him and figure out what he is doing there, he begins speaking in ominous warnings, my favorite being this line: “I hear the worms, eager to writhe in your carcass”. I loved this approach to introducing the werewolf. Rather than having it show up and just start ripping everyone to shreds, Janz uses sentences like these to craft a sense of tension and dread that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. 

The transformation process is one of the most important parts of any werewolf story and those scenes are handled expertly in Wolf Land. What makes them so fascinating is they are highlighted by small moments and differ from character to character. Each one of these characters has some sort of baggage in their past – not living up to potential, serious abuse, death and guilt. Janz does a great job of spending time with each one of these characters and looking at how they handle the changes of the werewolf curse – some embrace it while others are more reluctant to accept their new lives. It allows those who felt powerless throughout their lives to feel like they are finally in control, though they use that power and control in vastly different ways throughout the course of the novel. 

I like that Janz takes his time in showing how the survivors of the initial attack slowly begin to change. It isn’t the fast, stomach-churning transformation that immediately springs to mind when one thinks of werewolves, though there are some great scenes like that. It is a slow, gradual build-up starting when the characters notice they begin to heal at an astonishing rate. Then the changes start to manifest in other ways – a heightened sense of smell, hearing conversations from across the street or even something as simple as a look. These small scenes of change hint that something sinister is taking place and when the characters finally take on the form of the werewolf, readers are much like the characters in the book – mesmerized and unable to look away. They are handled with incredibly vivid detail and more often than not lead to blood-soaked scenes of terrifying violence.

Janz does an excellent job with creating a cast of characters that seem like the same sort of people you grew up with and that creates a connection with readers, even in the case of some of the more unsavory characters. However, what impressed me most, was the fearlessness Janz took with his characters. Without spoiling anything for readers, there were a few characters that were given pretty extensive backgrounds only to be torn to shreds by the werewolf relatively early in the story. I love when authors do that because it creates a very real sense of danger when no character is safe. Then there is Duane, who is known as “Short Pump” to virtually everyone in Lakeview. He is one of the main heroes in the novel, despite not fitting the standard definition of a hero. He is often mocked by just about everyone in town, is portrayed as shy and indecisive and despite his size and is relatively non-threatening. However, Duane undergoes his own transformation and challenges the perception that has followed him around his entire life by exhibiting an unexpected level of bravery.

Janz does an excellent job of portraying the small town of Lakeview and as a horror fan, I love these types of stories. There is something ominous about taking a town where seemingly nothing changes and everyone knows each other and plunging it into chaos by introducing the unknown. Janz paints a vivid picture through short sentences to convey the mundane nature of Lakeview like when Mike envisions his former classmates who used to hang out in the Burger King parking lot after school as adults still frequenting the same haunts, unwilling to let go of the past.

Janz also makes some interesting additions to the werewolf mythology. They are able to communicate telepathically, each one is connected to a sort of hive mind that allows them to understand each other without words. I also like the idea of there not being many werewolves and them preferring to keep their numbers small to avoid detection by any means necessary. Janz also crafts an interesting origin story on the werewolf phenomena involving a historical anecdote involving the Antonov sisters. It creates a plausible origin for not only the first werewolves but also how the mythical creatures made it to America. What makes it so interesting is that it sounds like a true legend. 

What makes Wolf Land such an enjoyable novel is Janz’s highly descriptive writing and his brutal depiction of the werewolf legend. These werewolves are incredibly brutal and there is no romanticism involved in their back story. These are not regal creatures of nobility or misunderstood creatures, they are bloodthirsty killing machines that do not hesitate to destroy everything in their path. Janz does give an interesting look at the humanity of the creatures though and some of them cling to that shred of their former selves to the bitter end. However, those driven by other motives relish their new powers and opportunity to kill at will. Despite the larger than life powers and presence of these monsters,  there are scenes where people fight back and it delighted the hell out of this horror fan. Reading about the sheer power of the werewolves in this novel, it would be logical to assume that any one who tries to resist would be torn apart in seconds flat. However, there are a few moments of sheer determination where some of the human characters are able to inflict a little damage of their own. 

The only complaints I had with Wolf Land is I would have liked to have seen more scenes with The Three, the mysterious group of original werewolves. There was a lot of potential for some interesting stuff there and while not including it doesn’t hinder the story, it would have been cool to learn more about their motives and what drives them. They seem to prefer smaller numbers, but there are others who have joined them. How do they pick and chose who joins them? We get a glimpse of their history through one of the survivor’s point of view, but the explanation seemed a little rushed. 

I have to be honest for a minute and admit that werewolves were never really my thing. I know that seems sacrilegious for a horror fan to say, but I was never all that frightened by them. They are scary enough I guess, but I was always more frightened and intrigued by other creatures. However, after reading Glenn Rolfe’s Blood and Rain and now Jonathan Janz’s Wolf Land, I am starting to change my stance on werewolves and am looking forward to reading more werewolf novels in the future. I was totally enthralled with Wolf Land from the beginning and there are a ton of tense, action-packed scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat. Make no mistake, Wolf Land is an incredibly violent story with copious amounts of blood and gore, but there is also a lot of human drama, humor and subtle hints of creepiness that help make this a stand-out werewolf story. Jonathan Janz is an incredible writer and after reading Wolf Land, I can see why so many horror fans love his work. I definitely consider myself a fan now and I look forward to catching up on his previous novels! 

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Jonathan Janz’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Wolf Land: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or your favorite bookstore!

Wolf Land tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Wolf Land! – #WolfLand #werewolves #winterofwolves #JonathanJanz #HookofaBook

Wolf Land Synopsis

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 werewolf.

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. 

Praise for Wolf Land and Jonathan Janz

“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, author

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

About Jonathan Janz

JonathanJanz

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 www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

Giveaway

Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Click the link to enter. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI2/?

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Glenn Rolfe, who recently released his thrilling werewolf novel Blood and Rain (review) through Samhain Horror. Glenn is one of my favorite writers and I knew I would read every book of his after I discovered his brutal and haunting debut The Haunted Halls. Blood and Rain is an absolute blast to read and offers a unique spin on the werewolf mythos, so I highly encourage any horror fan to pick up a copy of this stellar novel. I loved Glenn’s take on the werewolf curse and his characterization and attention to setting and pacing are top-notch. Glenn is an extremely talented author and already has locked in a few spots in my “Best of the Year list”, so I am happy to have him back on The Horror Bookshelf. Not only is Glenn a great author, but he is consistently sharing and promoting the work of other writers in the horror community. As an aspiring writer myself, Glenn’s post definitely hit home for me and his positive outlook and work ethic serve as an inspiration.

Before I turn over the blog to Glenn, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win some of Glenn’s books!

Staying Positive

By Glenn Rolfe, Author of Blood and Rain

blood-and-rain

Positivity breeds positivity. That mantra can get a writer through many situations big and small. It helps you keep the belief and faith, even when you hit a wall, that your story will tell you where it wants to go and how you plan to go about getting the finished draft published. Not everyone is going to get your story or love that you wrote a werewolf story without leaving the werewolf’s identity a mystery. You will get rejected, but if you have written the story you wanted to write (which, it most certainly should be if you’re submitting it) you must have faith that your baby will be adopted and find a home.

Tomorrow, Annie… the sun will come out tomorrow.

Another place where staying positive comes into play is in promoting yourself and others in your genre/field. Once you get published (and you will-see how good that positive thing feels?) you will get hit with a bunch of nice or great reviews by people that get your story and love your characters. Brace yourself. You will also get someone that hates it. You’ll get someone who doesn’t understand, or can’t relate to your characters or say…all of your great ‘80’s references. And you know what? That’s okay. Nobody writes a story that everyone likes and just because that one reviewer speaks poorly of your beloved work, it doesn’t make that person an asshole. Read it and let it go. Or do as some in our field do and don’t read it at all.

No means no, and that’s okay, too.

I had only been writing for eight months when I did the unthinkable…I emailed one of my favorite horror writers and asked him if he would be willing to beta read the first three chapters of my very first novel. Was this ballsy? Maybe. But you know what? The worst I was going to get in response was NO. And that’s fine. But you know something? That writer said, “sure.” He read my first three chapters and gave me a bucket full of great advice. Nuggets like “even if you’re going to kill a character that only appears in one chapter, you MUST bring that character to life, otherwise it comes off like a big screen cheap thrill” …that’s not quite verbatim, but you get the gist. Since then, this writer has remained one of my mentors in the horror writing business. It pays to try. It pays to go forward with a positive mindset.

We can only control what we do, not what others do.

In our world as writers, we can only control what WE do. We write our story, compromise on parts when we have to, and sell our story to anyone willing to listen. That’s what we can do. Once you sign a contract, you become an employee. Once you work for someone else, you have to play by the rules and policies of that company. Regardless of what happens, you can always choose to quit, but if you signed your contract that story is staying put until its contracted time expires (there are exceptions, but hopefully you don’t run into a crazy publisher that intentionally fucks you-makes changes without your approval, refuses to pay you, etc.). But we’re staying positive, remember? Publishing is a business. It’s not always pretty, but you can only control what YOU do. Sometimes our bosses will make changes in management, marketing, and other venues for a variety of reasons. Some we understand, some we do not. It has happened in my day jobs too many times to count. It has also happened in my real job. It sucks, and it is scary, but I can only control what I do and the attitude that I carry forward. And that is what I choose to do. I took a few days to consider all of the information received and realized what in the heat of the moment I forgot, to stay positive, and that, I can only control what I do. It sounds naïve to some I’m sure, but I had to make myself look at the bigger picture. Right now, I’m walking in the big unknown. Only time can show us whether or not the shake up is for the best or not. Whether that happened to your Customer Service Manager at Wal-Mart or to the CEO of your Hospitality Group, only time will tell. If you want to keep your current job, you must learn to roll with it. You must learn to roll with the punches. You can always choose to punch out; I’m staying on the clock and getting back to what I control. I’m getting back to work.

Good, good, good, good vibrations…

Please put positive vibes out there, people. Life is full of cheap shots. We must learn how to take the hits and figure out how to keep moving forward.

I hope this post makes someone feel good.

Pay it forward. Lift up someone in your field or your life that you think deserves to know how much you think of them or their work.

Stay tuned!

-GR

###

LINKS

Glenn Rolfe’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase Blood and Rain: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

blood-and-rain-tour-logo1

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Blood and Rain! – 

#BloodandRain #Werewolves #WereRolfe #Horrortober #horror #halloween #scaryreads

Blood and Rain Synopsis

The light of a full moon reveals many secrets.

Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man’s terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen.

Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past.

Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can’t even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.

Find Glenn Rolfe at: http://glennrolfe.com/ or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Praise for Blood and Rain

Praise for Blood and Rain~

“A major new talent rises from the Maine woods…Rolfe is the real deal, and Blood and Rain is a classic monster novel, full of blood and teeth and the kind of razor sharp writing that makes the pages sing. Small town horror is back, with a vengeance!” –Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Sparrow Rock, Diablo: Storm of Light and Day One

“With slashing claws and blood-soaked fur, Blood and Rain will have you howling in terror and delight. A welcome addition to the werewolf mythos, and proof that we’re in the presence of a rising star in the genre. Highly recommended!” –Ronald Malfi, author of The Floating Staircase

“Rolfe tells a tale that captures your attention like King without all of the wordiness. He also spills the red stuff like Laymon…” – Into the Macabre

“Blood and Rain is a monumental piece of horror fiction. It represents everything I love about werewolves, creature features, siege films, and everything else in between. It is still early in the year, but this is a clear cut candidate for my favorite book of 2015.” — Horror Underground

“Wow! Easily one of the best werewolf books I’ve ever read.” – Hunter Shea, author of Tortures of the Damned and The Dover Demon

“Some good ‘ol fashion violence and gore…” – Jason Parent, author of Seeing Evil

“Glenn Rolfe takes a swing at the werewolf genre and hits a home run.” – Russell James, author of Q Island and Dreamwalker

“…not just another werewolf story, Rolfe has managed to take the werewolf to a-whole-nother level…” – Horror Novel Reviews

“The best werewolf novel I’ve read since Jeff Strand’s Wolf Hunt.”–Horror After Dark

About Glenn Rolfe

glenn-bw-profile

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and the forthcoming, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will be released in March, 2016.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Excerpt

Stan Springs stared at the curse in the night sky. His curse. He clenched his jaw, and bit back the grunts that demanded release from within his sweat-covered body. His muscles tightened and took turns throwing fits. He could feel his heartbeat’s thunderous barrage at work inside his heaving chest. It was only a matter of minutes before the changes would come.

He ripped his gaze from the clouds, moved away from the window and knelt down next to the bed against the concrete wall. He slipped one shaky hand beneath the mattress and found the small incision he’d made when he first arrived at the institution. He had traded a guard, a heavyset fella by the name of Harold Barnes, his prized Ted Williams rookie card in exchange for a copy of the key. Parting with this gold mine had been necessary. Stan Springs had nothing else of value with which to barter. Harold trusted him enough to make the swap; he told Stan there were crazies here by the dozen, but he could tell that Stan was not one of them.

No, Harold, I’m something far worse.

Key in hand, Stan stepped to the unlocked door and cracked it open. The hallway was clear. He moved down the corridor, as stealthily as during his heydays working on the force in New York. Hearing footfalls ahead and to his left, he fell back and pressed his large frame against the custodial door. Hidden by the entryway’s shadow, he watched Nurse Collins—a tall, thin woman with a dark complexion—pass fifty feet from where he stood, before she disappeared into the nurses’ break room.

Barefoot and dressed in only a Red Sox T-shirt and his sleeping shorts, Stan made a break for the staircase across the hall. His breaths were coming faster now. If he didn’t hurry, he wouldn’t make it outside. He crept down the steps leading to the main hallway.

Through the small window on the stairwell door, he could see Harold Barnes’s haunted jowls illuminated by the laptop screen in front of him. The old man’s eyes were closed, his mouth open. Harold hadn’t even made it an hour into his shift before he was out. Stan knew Harold also ran his own antique shop in the neighboring town of Hallowell. He’d told Stan that working both jobs on the same day, which was sometimes unavoidable, made it difficult for him on the night shift. It was another shared nugget Stan had stored away for nights like this one—the nights the beast in him needed to get out.

Easing the door open, Stan skulked his way along the shadows on the wall, and tiptoed to the main entrance door. Despite the cramps now rampaging through his calves and thighs, he slipped the procured key into the lock, slow and steady. The door clicked open, and he stepped out into the night.

As the cool breeze brushed against the sweat of his brow, the tendons and bones in his face began to shift. The rest of his body followed suit. He dropped to one knee and cried out. His skin, his scalp, his eyes, his muscles were all too tight. He reached behind him and managed to push the door shut.

If you could see me now, Harold.

The private roads out front were deserted. He launched from the building’s stairs and landed on the lawn below, making a beeline for the woods to the left of the large property.

He was twenty feet from the forest when the change hit him like a massive wave, crashing him to the ground. His muscles clenched and squeezed and tore, while the bones of his face continued to crack and grow. His teeth began to fall out in place of the monster’s. Down on all fours, he crawled to the tree cover and vomited. A mix of last night’s cafeteria meat loaf, black coffee, loose teeth, and blood splashed the ferns before him. Stan’s fingers extended as his claws dug into the soft soil of spring’s floor. He moaned and grunted his way through the rest of the fluid process.

In full beast mode, Stan Springs stood and howled at the cloud-covered sky. The creatures of the night became ghosts among the trees. He felt the strength flowing through him and the hunger begging to be sated.

He burst forward, headed north. Despite Stan’s best effort to control the beast’s killing zone, he found himself heading home.

Giveaway

For a chance to win a print copy of Glenn Rolfe’s short story collection, Slush, or a chance to win your choice of any of his titles in e-book format, go to the link below for the Rafflecopter sign-up. Good luck! The print copy is only good for those in the United States. Questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b22/?