Book Review: Nightmare Man by Alan Ryker

18297261Title: Nightmare Man

Author: Alan Ryker

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Jessie is not living the life he imagined. He spends his days working a job he hates. He spends his nights tormented by night terrors.

He once had goals and dreams. Now he’s just trying to get by.

Unfortunately for Jessie and his family, while he’s given up on his dreams, his nightmares haven’t given up on him. And right now one is crossing over into the waking world.

The plot for Nightmare Man holds the middle between being familiar and being original. The concept of being haunted by lost dreams and opportunities, and having nightmares about it, is probably familiar to everyone. But Jessie, our main character, takes it a step further. Not only is he doing a job he loathes, he also spends his nights being tormented by a shadow man. Every night, the creature is born in his nightmares, time and time again, and haunted him till the night is over. As the nightmares get more serious, and he even begins to sleepwalk, Jessie realizes it can’t go further like that.

He enlists in an experimental program to help people with sleeping issues. But instead of getting better, the nightmares only seem to get worse. When his young son notices the nightmare man standing in his bedroom, Jessie knows he’ll  have to confront this nightmare being before it’s too late.

Jessie is your average Joe. There’s nothing spectacular or even remotely interesting about him – which makes him the best main character for this kind of book. He works a stressful, dull job, and has long given up his dream of becoming a comic book artist. He’s a well-rounded character with (broken) dreams and aspirations, fears and things he’d wish he’d done differently. And at its core, that’s what this book is about. Not a supernatural creature ready to cause havoc, but about ordinary people, and about what happens when they look at themselves for too long and figure out where their lives went wrong.

This novella was an interesting read. It didn’t scare me, but it caused me to think about humanity in general, and about how often we blame others for choices we made ourselves, and how easy parents blame children for their own lost dreams. The writing was good, and the plot, although not entirely original, definitely held my interest.

Book Review: The Hole by William Meikle

18043356Title: The Hole

Author: William Meikle

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It starts with an odd hum that brings headaches and nosebleeds to the inhabitants of a remote, sleepy country town. Then a sinkhole begins to form…and out from that hole comes the townspeople’s worst nightmares.

Facing their fears and the growing madness, a group of survivors descend into the collapsed area in an attempt to save what is left of their town. Sacrifices will be required, but will they be enough?

The hole is growing…spreading…and the horror within it is growing stronger…

The Hole surprised me. I thought it would be rather straightforward, but it’s actually a more complicated read than I gave it credit for.

Two men help out John Hopman when his septic tank gets stuck in some sort of sinking hole. Unfortunately, it’s not what they think at first, and the hole only grows in size, becoming a giant sinking hole soon threatening the whole city. But like that hole isn’t scary enough all on its own, it’s what’s inside that truly terrifies everyone. From the moment the hole was created, a strange humming sound has reached almost everyone in town. They can’t explain the sound, nor how it makes them feel, or why it causes their noses to bleed. And when what they find in the hole looks different to everyone, they figure their in over their heads.

Even though we don’t get to spend a lot of time in the small country town before things go to hell, Meikle does manage to capture the small town spirit well. The cast of characters is diverse and interesting, but some of them fell a little flat, and were too stereotypical for my liking. For example, the doctor. It seems like you can only go two ways with doctors in fiction: either they’re completely selfless, willing to risk everything for the greater good, or their selfish jerks. Nothing in between. Then there’s the local drunk who turns out to be quite the hero, and the town’s misfit who meets a girl and changes his life around. It was nice seeing these characters mix and mingle, but I wish some of them would’ve left the stereotypes and turned into real, developed characters.

The plot really pulled me in though. I kept guessing what was going on. The action was relentless from page one, with no quiet moments to relax at all. The atmosphere of terror was overwhelming, the randomness of it all making it all the more terrifying. I wasn’t fond of the whole biohazard stuff, but it fit the book. I’m just not a fan of that kind of plot in general, but here I could live with it. I liked how the reader was thrown from one direction to the other – were the creatures in the hole supernatural beings? Were they part of some satanic ritual? Aliens? Nature’s misfits? Plenty of guessing, little of answers until the very end.

An excellent read if you like horror, and especially if you, like me, are terrified of sinkholes.