January 27, 2014

Really Dark, to Put It Lightly: a review of Jonathan Janz's "Savage Species Part 3: Dark Zone"

Savage Species Part Three: Dark Zone
by Jonathan Janz
Samhain Publishing (2013)
83 pages
ISBN 1619217201

At this point in Janz's serial horror novel, all bets are off. The Children started off going berserk on everyone within arm's reach, and they have only gotten worse.

Sam and Charly are in the caverns searching for Charly's infant son, with Eric and his mistress in tow, but now Jesse, Emma, and the gang are winding their ways through the caverns as well. Only the Scooby gang from Hell are on the run, with the Children hot on their heels, and there's no guarantee there is a way out and may only be burrowing deeper into the monsters' territory.

Frank Red Elk shines in this installment with his lecherous and lewd behavior, even when faced a truly bowel-loosening threat scratching at his door. And when it becomes clear that this man has long been told about the threats beneath the earth, even suffering a traumatic event that gave him a glimpse of what lurks in the caverns, it's a lot easier to see how the guy might turn to every excess available to numb his brain to the terror beneath his feet.

Eric Florence, on the other hand, is a character I'm having a hard time buying into, with such a villainous streak that his overt antagonism feels cartoonish at times. Granted, I've crossed paths in real life with people who need only grow mustaches that they may twirl in order to complete the picture of stereotypical villains. So, I can cut a little slack as far as a resentful, spiteful, cheating husband goes in this novel.

As far the action goes, it's intense. The claustrophobic caverns come through loud and clear. The Children are just nuts. And it looks like there might be something even worse in those caverns with Jesse and the gang, and it was hard to imagine how things could get worse for them. Fortunately, that's Jonathan Janz's job, imagining ways for things to get worse, and he does it well.

Two more installments to go, and there's no telling who will make it out alive--assuming anyone does.

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