Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are film composers.  Very in demand, highly lauded, film composers for horror films.  They write the creepy music that make the movies work so well.  Ben writes it, Eddie arranges it, and the partnership works.  It works when Ben is able to write music, that is.  Ben has a creative block, and it doesn’t help that he’s divorced, his ex has a young stud fiance’, and is planning to move across the country with this new guy, and is threatening to take Ben’s young son with them.  So Ben’s head is full of things besides music, even with producers and a tyrannical director breathing down his neck.

It’s up to Eddie to inspire Ben to compose.  And what better way to gain inspiration for a horror film score than to stay in a castle that’s been home to murders, suicides, and other suspicious activities on a remote island?  Castle Blackwood is their destination, a working vacation that will keep them and their two companions, Eva and Claire, from civilization for a month.  Eddie is hoping the spooky place will break down the walls that are stifling Ben’s creativity.

Though the castle doesn’t immediately work magic on Ben, it eventually casts a dark spell on the group.  Castle Blackwood summons ghosts and specters, especially for those haunted by the past.  Plus there is something living in the deep dark bowels of Castle Blackwood that has finally woke and is hungry.  Something from myth and older than man is stalking the grounds, and it has voracious desires and deadly appetites.

The Sorrows is the debut novel by Jonathan Janz.  It feels familiar, but never feels old or as if it has been told before.  It did call to mind Brian Keene’s Dark Hollow, but that book was nowhere near as good as this one.  Where Keene’s book flew off the rails into needless degradation and boredom, Janz keeps The Sorrows actually quite tasteful for its subject matter. He isn’t afraid to tell a story, keeping the pacing pitch perfect just like the atmosphere.  This is top quality midnight movie stuff.

For me, the story of how Castle Blackwood came to be so damned was a little more interesting than the present day story of Ben and Eddie.  The characters that dominate the history of Blackwood were slightly thinner and less defined than Ben and his companions, and I wanted to know more of them and their world.

All in all, though, I can’t complain.  The Sorrows is a splendid, creepy read, and a good start to what I hope is a long and fruitful career for Mr. Janz.

4 out of 5
John Jason

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