– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Castle of Sorrows’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
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, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith, and Ronald Kelly. 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 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 (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School Library Journal, and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.
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 Janz at www.jonathanjanz.com.
Fiction: Contemporary horror
Product format: Paperback
Price: £9.95; $14.95
Pages: 288 pp
Series: Fiction Without Frontiers
Imprint: FLAME TREE PRESS
Distribution: Marston Book Services
Available in HARDBACK, EBOOK and PAPERBACK editions
Ben Shadeland’s infant daughter has been kidnapped and he’s convinced that the malevolent creature that lives in the catacombs beneath Castle Blackwood – an ancient god named Gabriel – is responsible. It has summoned unspeakable monsters to the Sorrows – both human and supernatural. And Gabriel won’t rest until he has his revenge.
It all began with the music. Quinton Early sensed an alteration in his partner during their fourth day on the island. Nothing obvious, just a strange shadow about Agent Moss’s face that had appeared when Early, stuck for a diversion from their investigation of this godforsaken place, had suggested they use the old-fashioned record player to spin some tunes.
The first album Early had selected had been a collection of Robert Blackwood’s most famous music. The first song was “Forest of the Faun.”
Caleb Moss’s sunny expression—the guy was always cheerful, which was one of the reasons Quinton was glad Moss had been assigned with him to this investigation—had quickly been replaced by a saturnine look. As if an old memory were being dredged up in Moss’s psyche.
“What’s wrong, buddy?” Quinton asked.
“Turn that fucking thing off,” Moss growled.
Quinton blinked at his partner. Moss had never spoken to him like that. No one ever spoke to Quinton like that. Quinton was six-five, for one thing, and for another he went two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and not a bit of that weight was fat. Add to that Quinton’s cold-blooded glare, and it wasn’t any wonder folks treated him with respect.
But Moss had just spoken to him as though Quinton was his servant or something. Quinton felt a dangerous heat begin to build at the base of his neck.
“If you have a problem with the music,” Quinton said, “you can move to another room.”
Quinton remained facing the record player, showing he was into the music. And he was. “Forest of the Faun” was a peculiar, atonal piece, but it had a way of reaching into you and grabbing hold. Besides, Quinton reasoned, Caleb Moss wasn’t a bad dude. Was in fact Quinton’s favorite of all the guys he’d worked with over his ten years with at the agency. He shot Moss a furtive glance to see if the man had taken him up on his offer to leave, but there Moss still stood, bending over, his hands squeezing the back of one of the couches positioned near the sixth floor studio’s center. Moss’s face was pinched in what Quinton first mistook for concentration, but soon realized was physical pain. Was his partner suffering from a headache? A migraine maybe? If he was—and Moss certainly did look like he was in a hell of a lot of pain—that would explain the disrespectful way he’d spoken to Quinton moments ago.
The ball of rage between Quinton’s shoulders began to loosen. He reached out, twisted down the volume on the record player. “Hey, Caleb. You don’t feel good, why don’t you go downstairs, rest for a while? There’s nothing we can do anyway with all this rain.”
It was true too. They’d spent the first three days busting their asses trying to piece together just what the hell might’ve happened here two months ago, taking what the forensics team had given them, crosschecking that information with what little testimony they were able to squeeze out of Ben Shadeland and Claire Harden, two of the three survivors of the bloodbath that had taken place here. The third survivor, the little boy, had been completely ruled out for questioning by the higher-ups; Ben, the boy’s father, didn’t want his son Joshua interviewed, and so far the FBI had respected those wishes. If it had been Quinton’s call, he would’ve talked to the kid anyway. As a father of two little girls, Quinton Early understood a father’s protective urge as well as anybody, but this was a special situation. This had been the deaths of ten people, and these weren’t just any run-of-the-mill lowlifes either. Among the victims were Stephen Blackwood, a perennial member of the Forbes 500; his son and heir Chris Blackwood, who’d supposedly incurred the ire of some very nasty gangsters; Lee Stanley, who just happened to be one of the hottest directors in the world, and who, on a more personal note, had made three of Quinton’s favorite horror films; Eva Rosales, Stanley’s gorgeous assistant; Ben Shadeland’s ex-wife, Jenny, which to Quinton was damned suspicious; and Ryan Brady, a respected commercial pilot and the man who’d stolen Ben’s wife away from him, and to Quinton that part was really damned suspicious.
Thinking of this massive toll, Quinton wrinkled his nose, glared down at the revolving turntable. The Shadelands’ story was unquestionably bullshit, and a good deal too convenient: Ben Shadeland, rising movie composer, is up shit creek without a paddle. He’s late on his deadline for the new Lee Stanley picture—a movie called House of Skin that Quinton couldn’t wait to see—and he’s losing his wife and son to a good-looking young stud who happens to fly airplanes. Everybody involved goes to the same island, where no one can witness anything should something unpleasant take place. Then Ben, his son, and the woman he just happens to now be engaged to, are the only survivors of whatever happens on that island.
Quinton’s nostrils flared thinking about it. It was bullshit. All of it. Ben Shadeland’s amnesia story was pure fantasy. And Claire’s fantastic tale about Ryan Brady going postal and killing everyone?
The biggest, smelliest mound of bullshit he’d ever inhaled.
Moss was gesturing vaguely in Quinton’s direction, his words too low to be intelligible. Quinton turned the record player down to near inaudibility and said, “What’s the matter, pal?”
Now what the hell was this?
Not bothering with the turntable any longer, Quinton hurried over to where Moss was now slumped over the couch back, his body shuddering as if in the grips of some sort of seizure.
For the first time, Quinton began to worry.
For one thing, there was no medical help on the island. Hell, there was no one on the island. There was only Quinton Early and Caleb Moss, and the nearest doctor was back on the mainland, eighty miles away in Petaluma. Shit, they might as well be on another planet. And forget calling anybody. Their cell phones might as well be paperweights here on the Sorrows. Their helicopter ride back to California wouldn’t arrive for another three days. If something happened to one of them between now and then, they were on their own.
Caleb’s convulsions worsened, the spasms first growing more pronounced, and soon becoming violent.
“Oh shit,” Quinton muttered. He feverishly scanned his memory for what little first aid he knew…
Check the patient’s airway. He grabbed hold of Moss’s shoulders, made to flip the man over onto his back, but it was like trying to wrangle a bucking horse. Man, Quinton thought, this was even harder than corralling his two-year-old daughter when she didn’t want a diaper change.
Moss’s body twisted, writhed.
“Dammit, come on,” Quinton breathed.
He finally got a good grasp on Moss’s shoulders, and, careful not to let his partner’s head crack against the floor, he eased Moss down as well as he could. Moss’s feet drummed, his hands flopping about like he was doing some trendy new dance. One knee shot up, nailed Quinton in the ribs. A flailing wrist gave him a smart whap in the nose. Quinton’s eyes began to water.
Quinton wrestled Moss’s arms down, but his partner’s body was like an enormous pressurized fire hose made intractable by the flow of water pulsing through it.
“Calm down, damn you!” Quinton yelled. From across the room, it seemed like the record player had been cranked up again, and now the music was anything but beautiful. Far from it, the song had become grating and unpleasant. And how the hell was Quinton supposed to check Moss’s airway for obstructions when he couldn’t even get close enough to the man’s face to see his airway?
“I said,” Quinton muttered, “calm…the hell…down.”
Moss’s hips lifted off the floor, bucking Quinton into the air like some inexperienced cowboy, the motion taking him so by surprise that he damn near smashed down on Moss before he could catch himself. His arms free, Moss resumed his weird, chaotic dance moves and promptly whipped Quinton across the mouth, busting Quinton’s bottom lip wide open.
Jerking his head to the side and spitting out a stream of bright red blood, Quinton crawled grimly forward until he sat astraddle Moss’s midsection. Then, hating himself for it but not knowing any other way to help his partner, he gripped the jagging arms and lifted them above Moss’s head until they were pinned against the floor. For a crazy moment Moss reminded him of one of the Village People in that “YMCA” song; lying on the ground with his arms up, Moss looked like the A.
And speaking of music, what the hell was up with that record player? Quinton hadn’t touched it since racing over here to help Moss, but now the thing was blaring as though Quinton had cranked it up full blast. And not only was the volume twice as loud as it had been earlier, now it was repeating the same song—“Forest of the Faun.” Quinton was no vinyl aficionado—he’d been born during the era of the cassette tape and had graduated to compact discs by his eighth birthday—but he’d never heard of a record player with a repeat track mode. And even if such a player existed, this machine looked old enough to have been made when his grandma was a little girl.
Bloody lips pressed together, Quinton wrapped one huge hand around both of Moss’s wrists to bind them together. Then, pinning the man down with his superior weight, he reached toward Moss’s mouth with his free hand.
Moss’s teeth clicked and snapped, almost as if he were eager to eat some of Quinton’s fingers. Moss’s body writhed beneath him, the power surging beneath Quinton’s big frame terrible in its vitality. What in God’s name was wrong with Moss? The man had no irregular medical history, at least not that Quinton knew of. Was it something Moss had never told him about? Or a condition of which Moss had been previously unaware?
Whichever the case, this was bad. Really, really bad. Maybe even dying bad if Quinton didn’t locate the source of the problem fast.
Terrified he’d lose his fingers but knowing Moss could choke on his own tongue if he didn’t act, Quinton reached toward Moss’s snapping jaws. He’d just about gotten hold of his partner’s cleft chin when Moss’s big brown eyes snapped wide, his body arching in a long, trembling convulsion. Despite Quinton’s girth, he felt himself lifted two feet off the ground as Moss’s hips rose.
Then both men landed with a bone-jarring thump.
It hurt Quinton’s testicles something fierce, but despite the sickly ache issuing from his groin, he was transfixed by the sight of Moss’s face.
Moss’s eyes were wide open. They were glazed with a look of utmost terror.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds