The Dark Game

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I simply loved The Dark Game as this was my first Jonathan Janz read. I'm old school horror so this reminded of an old Hammer film Tales from the Crypt, actions or inactions have consequences. Highly recommended and I will seek more of his works.
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Thank you to Flame Tree Press and Athe author for providing me with an ARC.

The Dark Game is about 10 struggling authors who are invited to the house of renowned author, Roderick Wells, for a writing retreat. At the end of this retreat, one of them will be crowned the best of those gathered and will not only win a grand monetary prize, but also will be given a book deal to become a renowned author themselves. Arriving at Wells’ property, the situation seem to be quite strange, but as the story continues, they realize that they are all part of something more sinister than they could have imagined.

I have read one of Janz’s novellas and a short story (of which I enjoyed both) but this is the first novel of his I have read. I was a little worried about this being my first, because I love paranormal horror more than just violent horror with a serial killer (which I thought this was going to be. Spoiler: it’s both). I feel like there are several horror books that involve writers being invited somewhere, and spooky things happen. Ex: Kill River by Scott Thomas (one of my favorite books, ever) and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk (which I have not read, but own). I was very wrong, because this book presents the premise in such a unique way with Janz’s amazing writing.

I think my favorite thing in this book were the characters. They were each their own person, some likeable, some unlikeable, and none perfect. Janz also know how to write women, and while they are sometimes seen sexually in the book, so are men.

I wish I could say more about the book, but I can’t without spoiling it. I will say near the end, there is more action, which isn’t my favorite and it almost felt like different writing. That’s why the book is getting 4 stars and not 5, but I still enjoyed it so much. I had already purchased a hard copy before I had finished my digital ARC, along with 5 other Janz novels. Can’t wait to read more!
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An amazing read, twists and turns around every page turn.  Just when you think you have it figured out BAM another twist.  Everything about this book makes it a joy to read, from the cover to description to the book itself.  Will keep you on edge.  

Thank you NetGalley for a free copy of this to read and review.  I highly recommend.
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Way too many characters to keep up with. It was an okay storyline if just a bit predictable. Still worth a read.
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The book is darker than I expected and I loved it. It's not afraid to show the filth of human behaviour and the extremes of what people could do to each other. The characters aren't all likeable which makes watching them suffer pretty entertaining. The ways they are removed from the story are creative too. There are also snippets of the characters' writings and I wish there's more of that because that's where their differences are most obvious.

I do wish the dark side of Wells isn't revealed as early as it is because it would have built more dread if we don't know exactly who he is. I also thought the romance plot is too predictable. I would have loved if the book had done something different because it was doing well with subverting character tropes before that.

The last third of the book is full of action which is super engaging. The power of stories is a theme throughout. There's also a thread about putting your demons to rest and letting go of your fears. This is my first Jonathan Janz book but it will definitely not be my last.
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley & author.

I wasn't prepared for the dark and twisted game that this was. 

If you like horror..  this is for you.   don't even think about it, just get the book. 

and don' tread it at night..  haha!
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While the title of the book, 'The Dark Game', already hints at some ominous dark story, the pages behind the cover lead us into the deepest human abysses, presenting something even more scary than expected.

Ten authors follow famous author Roderick Wells' invitation to a competition, where only one of them will survive (unknowingly, but literally) to win fame and fortune. As it turns out, each author has a skeleton in the closet, which was part of the reason they had been chosen. Now they are haunted by their dark secrets and soon, the body count starts to rise.

While at first I had trouble to keep all the characters apart, their different voices and mannerisms made it easy to draw a clear picture of each of them. While I didn't sympathize with any of the characters that well, I can easily name a few I absolutely loathed from the beginning.

Reading this book felt like reading both a novel and a collection of short stories. There are flashbacks into each author's past and glimpses into their works written for the competition. Enveloping this collection of all kinds of horror scenarios is the intricately woven main plot, which adds just another layer of creepiness. I loved the mix of subtle and more explicit horror and the twisted happy ending.
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Over the years, I had been hearing the name of Jonathan Janz mentioned -repeatedly- in the horror novel community. Nothing but praise for his work. I was very excited to get my hands on his newest book, The Dark Game. After hearing so much about him, I was looking forward to finally reading something of his.

I was not disappointed at all. This book pretty much had everything you could possibly want. Creepy house, crazy villain, henchmen and women, victims you love, victims you hate, blood, death, psychos, heroes, and plenty of horror. I flew through this book, sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. Once the story got on it’s way, I could not put it down.

At first, I was a little bit worried that the plot would have way too many characters for me to keep up with. I am terrible with names and sometimes when there are too many characters in a story my brain just does not want to play keep up. 10 writers, 1 recluse, plus 3 other people living in the house, not even counting all the side names mentioned as backstory characters. Oddly enough, I didn’t have any trouble remembering who was who, who had done what, or who was where. I was really surprised. 😮 I think my brain was just too bewitched by the story to forget anyone.

The over all story was super fun and scary. 10 authors all trying to win a once in a life time chance of fame and fortune in a writing contest by an infamous and legendary author. All of that right there is interesting on it’s own, but then you add in a bunch of demented, WTF supernatural elements on top of that and things get really intriguing real fast. There were a plethora of twists that left my jaw hitting the floor. Now add in a ton of juicy dark secrets just for good measure. Lots of layers to this book. The Dark Game left me with chills running up and down my spine. It’s no wonder I couldn’t put this book down!

I seriously had a great time reading this novel. I thought this was a delightful horror book and I would gladly recommend it others. I’m very happy I finally read something by this author and I will definitely look in to his other work.
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I couldn't get into the story. The writing style was too direct and felt kind of choppy. I also couldn't connect to the characters and found them to be annoying, there wasn't really anyone worth "rooting for."
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I have never read anything by Jonathan Janz before, but the premise for this book really appealed. Ten very different writers are chosen to take part in a writing retreat/contest ran by the celebrated author, Roderick Wells. Upon arriving, it soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems in this isolated mansion, with it's mysterious owner. 
The story moves along quite briskly, with it's large cast of characters introduced in the first few chapters. Almost as soon as they arrive at the retreat they are confronted by nightmares of their past misdemeanors, and before too long things take a murderously supernatural twist, and the writers have to try and survive the contest for more than just money or publishing deals.
As I said, this was my first book by this author, and I'd definitely be interested to read more of his work. It was a quick, snappy read, with a well realized, creepy setting. I felt that perhaps there were a few too many characters so for a while I struggled to keep them all straight in my head, and although I found all the characters interesting I found that I wasn't really bothered who survived. 

This is a fun read, and gets a solid 3/5 from me.

Thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest review.
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Written in third person from several different perspectives The Dark Game is a catchall of horror. Every author creating a different story whilst hiding from their own secrets.

I took a beat to get familiar with all the different characters. I struggle a little when writers introduce characters by having them all introduce themselves to each other. Happily they are written with enough individuality that it didn't take long to familiarise myself.

I felt that by pre-empting the story line Janz was taking away the potential for shock. Sentences such as 'one of them would be murdered that night' and telling us when and/or who was going to die always yank me out of focus. Let me follow the story and find out for myself!

Where are they? What secrets do they hide? 

Previously in HoS I enjoyed the book within a book trope, with this many fictional writers though it was hard to follow. As well as the current scenes for each character there are flashbacks, diary entries and their own story creations. The Dark Game is divided into several subtitled parts and each begins again at chapter one. All of these aspects made it difficult to settle in to the story, but perhaps that is Janz' intent? There is no lull in the action, just unrelenting threat from all angles bestowed by a multitude of monsters, killers and ghosts.

With so many characters to switch between I found little development aside from Lucy, Will and Rick. The focus is heavily on each of the writers shady pasts.

This is my third Janz novel. I enjoy them the way I would a B-movie horror flick- ridiculous, fast-paced fun. I roll my eyes frequently but with acceptance and have come to expect stomach turning, down right disgusting scenes with frequent references to genitalia. I've begun referencing this as 'cheap horror' -heavy on the purposely uncomfortable oxymorons and shock repulsion.  

I think of Janz work as Goosebumps for adults! Pure entertainment with constant and unbelievable threats from fantastical creations. At the same time it's a raw dirty kind of horror that makes you feel like you need to scrub it off after reading. 
Janz has a unique voice, easily recognizable once read  an author I will definitely revisit.
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**I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.**

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book as soon as I read the synopsis. Ten writers, summoned to a writer’s retreat under a shroud of secrecy, arrive at a location they’re not allowed to know. The retreat is hosted by Roderick Wells, a writer who has achieved a level of fame and critical acclaim for his novels on a level of say, Stephen King.

I thought this book would be a mystery. I was expecting something along the lines of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. You discover very quickly that the contestants are beginning to be picked off one by one. However, there were definite elements of horror and the paranormal in this novel that elevated it beyond anything I’d expected or anticipated. 

As soon as I got through the first few chapters, I was completely sucked in by this book. I totally and unashamedly binge read it. I’ve never read anything by Jonathan Janz before, and I have to say, I found this book to be quite exceptional. While I could see where the plot was leading at some point, I stillI never knew what to expect next, or how the story would ultimately end. That very quality of unpredictability made it so effective. I also LOVED the ending - that final chapter was again, completely unexpected.

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those like me who love books that straddle that like between horror and mystery/thriller (they’re too unfortunately rare, in my opinion). I would only give you one piece of advice before you pick up this book - go in blind!! Don’t read any more reviews that give away plot details, because the slow reveal was a huge part of the thrill. You don’t want to spoil that for yourself.

I’m definitely going to check out other books by Jonathan Janz, and I’m so glad I was introduced to a new author. I hope his other books can top this one. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future releases, too.
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I have been wanting to read a book by Jonathan Janz for quite a while because I have been hearing/reading so many raving reviews on Instagram about his books. I managed to snag a copy of, "The Dark Game" and now I am mentally smacking myself for taking so long. I was literally hooked by the first sentence in the first chapter. I am not sure if I am allowed to quote a sentence or not so I won't but pick up a copy of this book and you will see exactly what I mean.
Imagine the tv show, "Survivor" but the contestants are writers and not survivalists. Ten writers are chosen by the most famous and successful author in the world to go on a retreat where they will learn and benefit from his expertise. The catch is there can only be one winner. The truth is that they are now in the grasp of a sadistic and possibly insane host. Throw in a hint of the supernatural and you have the perfect storm.
The book drew my interest from the beginning and didn't let up until the very last page. Mr. Janz knows how to slowly raise the suspense and keep it going until the very end. I actually ended up staying up late to finish which is unusual for me. I also gave 5 stars which I do not do very often either. Do I recommend this book? The answer is a resounding, hell yes!
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Sort of a take on Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" but much darker. The author adds an element of the occult that horror fans will appreciate. Those looking for a whodunit will be disappointed.
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A big thank you to Flame Tree Press, NetGalley and Jonathan Janz for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review! 

Let me just start by saying that after two books, Jonathan Janz is easily one of my top favorite authors in horror. And while you may look at my three star rating and wonder how that can be so, it has nothing to do with his writing in this book, it's purely just personal preference. Some people hate books about camping, or books that take place in haunted houses, apparently books about games/competitions isn't MY favorite plot line. 

But if it's YOURS then let me say that Jonathan Janz does it very well. In The Dark Game we are introduced to several characters competing in a little game, all writers troubled by demons and hoping to win a break on their next best seller. But you quickly realize there's something really strange afoot and the host, Mr. Roderick Wells, has a rather unpleasant and unorthodox way of testing his contestants. 

Janz proves to me once again in this book that he is masterful in creating characters that engage you and pull you in. So while it may have not been MY favorite, it quite possibly will be yours so read it.
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The Dark Game has a great ending and is well written. This book has a bit too many characters and they get lost in the book. I love sex in a book, but in this book it seems that all the sex takes away from the thriller element. It reminded me of a eighties horror movie. Overall still a good book.
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Jonathan Janz is a good storyteller. The premise of the book grabbed me immediately, 10 writers selected for a summer long retreat and the possibility of winning 3 million dollars. I feel the book stumbled with the amount of characters. I did not feel any emotional connections to any of them.  The violence was quite scary. I will definitely read another book by Jonathan Janz in the future.
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This was my very first read of Mr. Janz's work....I sat on this review for a few days to let the innards really sink in. With that being said, I was lost at first and couldn't connect to the characters, I was confusing one for the other- too fast paced POVs. BUT, once I started feeling that adrenaline pumping and getting halfway through the book, the plot and premise sucked me right in. I didn't see where he was going until about 3/4 of the way through, but something pulled me to the needing point of knowing what would happen. Maybe this isn't the right book to start with, but his writing STYLE has me hooked! I'm planning on reading plenty of his work coming up for reviews and I am so excited to jump head first to see how they are to this one! So ending this review, I need to say, pick up this book whether you've read his work or not because he write with a mental horror that stays with you long after you read the book!
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A group of authors are attending a competitive writing retreat hosted by the very successful, and very reclusive, Roderick Wells. Through manipulation and cruelty, Wells will push the writers to write a truly amazing story, but only one writer can win, and the losers lose more than just the competition.
The Dark Game opens with introductions to a rather large cast of characters, and it feels like a few too many to properly keep track of. The good news is that Janz starts picking them off in no time, so you don't actually have to keep track of all of them for long! Even the cannon fodder characters have traits to distinguish them, not to mention secrets and dark pasts aplenty. What I found really interesting was how well Janz balanced predictability with the unexpected. Characters you expect to hook up or form alliances do, but the order of the contestants "leaving" the retreat was full of surprises. My personal favorite was Will (which seems strange considering I don't feel like we actually get to know him very well) but in my opinion the most compelling character is Sherilyn, and I would love to read a story just about her.
I've said it before, but I have to say it again-Janz writes a finale like nobodies business. I can't stop being impressed by how he is able to draw it out so much, without losing the tension and boring the reader. Instead I found myself on the edge of my seat completely unsure of what would happen next, and even when I thought the danger was over and the happy ending was achieved, a clever surprise awaited me.
If you're looking for those old school horror vibes in a contemporary release, Janz is your guy!
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Enjoyable read overall. While I wasn’t completely invested in any of the cast they were all entertaining enough, with my main drive being to see their ends. Ha. It was interesting seeing the characters (all writers) behaving and “speaking” like make of the writers out there in social media land. Gave them a bit of a grounded feeling. My favorite portion was the flashback scenes. Very moving.
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