Expected Publication 10th January 2023
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 3.5
Ben Bookman is called The Nightmare Man because of his ability to weave a horror story like no other. After struggling with writer’s block, Ben heads to the family estate in order to knuckle down and finish his current work in progress, he spends the weekend in his Grandfather’s Atrium which is filled with thousands of numbered books that contain no words. Though he can remember little of what transpired over that time, he walked away with a finished manuscript. On the eve of his book’s release, local detectives are called to a gruesome sight; a family slain, and sewn up inside hand made cocoons which were hung from the rafters of their barn. This murder strangely resembles the one at the beginning of Ben’s newest release. When a second killing follows the same pattern, the detectives set their sights on Ben. As the killing’s continue to mirror Ben’s latest book, the police can’t help but mark Ben as a suspect. Though as he delves deeper into his past and his family ancestry, he begins to realise that he may have unwittingly set something free that was trapped long ago. Now it’s a race to learn the truth of Blackwood Mansion and of what lies in the Bookman family’s past before more death follows, but will they be able to stop it before it’s too late?
I’ve been on a bit of a horror kick this year, so I was pretty excited when I saw this one pop up on Netgalley. The premise intrigued me and I love the idea of a book within a book, and I’ll say, it didn’t disappoint, but be prepared because there’s a fair bit to wrap your head around as the story progresses.
The story itself I felt was well written with a quick easy flow that kept the pages turning and me needing to know what was going to happen next. This isn’t just a slash and hack horror story, though there is it’s fair share of that going on, it’s also a story about self discovery and finding one’s self, I feel. I was super intrigued by the idea that there are murders happening based on a book that has just been released, even though, us as readers and reviewers know, many, many people can get their hand on a book prior to it’s release date in above board manners, let alone the amount of ways that I’m sure people can find books online illegally. So don’t let the premise make you assume that you know who is responsible for what transpires in this book, as I can assure you, it’s not going to be as cut and dried as you think. I felt like the pacing was on point and it kept the story moving along at a steady pace. There is a fair bit that goes on as the story progresses, so at times it took a moment to wrap my head around how threads were connecting and where things were heading, but over all I found this to be a quick and easy read.
The characters I felt were really well written. They each had such distinct personalities and voices and I really enjoyed the well rounded cast of characters. I will say that, for being the protagonist, I did find Ben a little bit flat but I think it’s because there was so much going on surrounding him that maybe I just didn’t take as much notice of his personality as I should have. I really enjoyed the characters of Detective Mills and Blue; a father daughter duo with a lot of crap in their past that they need to work through. I feel like we got to see a lot of that work happening while the case was being investigated and I think they were my favourite characters. A lot of the killers we encounter in this story did come across as caricatures of stereotypes, in my opinion, but I feel like it really played in well with the vibe that the story was going for. I also loved the relationship dynamic between Ben and his wife Amanda, it was terrible, they were basically at the end of the marriage and that was prevalent for most of the book, but I enjoyed getting to see their relationship evolve again towards the end, the same with Mills and Blue’s relationship.
I can definitely see why this story is marked as horror, but I didn’t find it scary as such. Yeah there were a couple of creepy moments, and there were moments of uncertainty as to whether things were going to go the way I thought they would, or whether it would turn things completely on it’s head a take a different route. Though I guess at some of the reveals, I could never have really guessed the full extent of the reason behind the entire story – The Nightmares. I loved the folklore that was involved with the Mare and how it came to be, I found this a cool addition to the story.
All in all, I feel that this was a fresh idea for the horror genre and I love what Markert did with it. While I did enjoy it, I didn’t find it scary as such, and at times it did come across a little convoluted. So I guess I can say, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I’m definitely keen to see what Markert does next and I feel like we’ll get some cool and unique stories from this author. If you like your horror with some gore, violence and some folklore added in, give this one a go.