The Sorrows

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

Thank you to Mr. Janz, Flametree Publishers, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read "The Sorrows" My apologies for not sending this review out earlier, I saw that I had a book archived that I had not reviewed. Don't let the fact that I forgot to review the book, that this book is forgettable, not the case. This is my second Janz Novel after "Siren and the Specter" which I really enjoyed! I believe that The Sorrows was orginally published  in 2012. Going back and reading his work from the back catalog / republish, I did notice how his writing has grown. Similarly to The Siren and the Specter the setting is on an island, with a mysterious Castle/home with some ancient evil. The book can be graphic and violent with underlying ancient evil, I say that like its a bad thing?! Very atmospheric with strong characters. I do not like to talk about characters in my reviews, I think the discovery of every aspect of book characters and their motivations is what makes a book interesting. I think there was plenty of growth for the characters and There is  a good story in The Sorrows, and while I did not enjoy as much as his later work, I still think it is a very good book. Thanks again to everyone involved and happy reading! #thesorrows #netgalley
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Content Warnings: rape, domestic abuse, child abuse, suicide, vehicle crash, addiction, animal abuse

Jonathan Janz missed his calling — he’d make a great juggler. Just like his excellent The Siren and the Specter from last year, The Sorrows keeps an impressive number of balls in the air at all times. It weaves together multiple storylines, points of view, and timelines to craft a story that keeps you riveted. This title is actually a reissue of his debut novel, originally published in 2012. Though the two books are far from being the same story, there are some striking similarities between The Sorrows and The Siren and the Specter: an island haunted by a malevolent, lustful spirit; the aforementioned juggling of perspectives and timelines; some truly terrifying moments of horror; and a patina of sleaze covering most, if not all, of the male characters.

The story follows film composer Ben Shadeland and his business partner Eddie Blaze as they fly out to The Sorrows, a not-at-all menacing-sounding island estate infamous for the mysterious murders that happened there decades ago. Ben is behind schedule on an important project — a film score for horror director Lee Stanley — and Eddie thinks that a month on a haunted murder island will provide just the right touch of inspiration for him to complete the project. Ben, Eddie, and everyone else who steps foot on the island soon discover that the stories about the Sorrows being haunted may be true, as the island’s evil begins to amplify their basest urges and drag their darkest secrets out into the open. Though there are several circles to this hell on Earth, with varying degrees of divine (or profane) judgment depending on the severity of your sins, Janz clearly wants his readers to know that no one is safe. And I dig it: as far as worldviews go, I think “we’re all doomed” is a pretty good one.

Despite my appreciation of Janz’s bleak outlook, though, I did have misgivings about the treatment of one of the female characters. I won’t name her so as to remain as non-spoilery as possible, but she ends up being punished far worse than any of the despicable men surrounding her, and her “sins” were minuscule compared to theirs. I don’t open any horror novel expecting justice and fairness, but I was still disturbed by the injustice of this character being tortured for the crime of being a woman who uses her body to get what she wants. There was no social commentary or feminist statement that I could discern; it was just torture. I’m well aware that sympathetic characters often meet gruesome or tragic ends in horror, but this character’s fate was a far cry from business as usual. Because so much of the book is devoted to punishing people for their misdeeds and because her suffering was extreme even among such grisly company, her arc felt like a statement of judgment on her moral fiber and fitness as a human being. The more distance I get from the book, the more trouble I have with this character’s storyline.

With that said, I still enjoyed this read a great deal. The ending is an explosion of action, gore, grotesquerie, and suspense. Even if the first three-quarters of the book were terrible, I might tell you to read it just for this wild ending, but luckily the rest of the book is just as compelling as the outrageous finale. The disturbing imagery of one of the big reveals will stay with me for a while, and the final sentence is a terrific gut-punch of dread. The Sorrows shows that the cycle of human evil and suffering never stops and that not even the most innocent among us can escape unscathed. We are, indeed, all doomed.

I'd like to thank Flame Tree Press for providing a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm about to ramble but this has a point, please bear with.

At the beginning of the year I noticed I had a few Flame Tree Press books to read and decided that it was unacceptable behaviour to have not read them yet so, as is my wont, I decided to do an Instgram post in which I tagged the publisher and authors of the books I had and said I would be getting to them forthwith. I then received a reply from Jonathan Janz thanking me for having some of his books to read, I asked which order he would suggest I read them in and his reply was 'The Dark Game, The Siren and the Specter and then The Sorrows', as he believed the first 2 were stronger than this one. I took his advice (Obvs) and have to say, yes, the other 2 are stronger , but I still rate this as a 5 star read. Here's why:

Ben and Eddie are composers, asked to score a film by a renowned horror director and with the deadline looming and Ben having yet to find inspiration, Eddie suggests they try and rent The Sorrows, an island off the coast of Northern California with it's own castle, uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders supposedly happened there in 1925.

The owners son, desperately in need of money, agrees to let them use the island and Castle Blackwood for a month while they write the score, along with Ben and Eddie there are 2 women, Eva, the girlfriend of the director and Claire, who really wants to work with Ben as she loves his work.

Things are creepy and slightly off from the start, mysterious noises, shadows, things you catch out of the corner of your eye and weird dreams. told in present day and through journal enteries going back many, many years, we see the backstory of the Blackwoods and the history of the castle, horiffic, inhumane and despicable things that should never happen.

The characters are interesting, each having their own reasons to be there and having their own doubts about the castle and how it makes them feel. It's creepy and foreboding, dark places, shadows, a scary basement/dungeon, voices calling to them, sending each of them a little bit mad.

There's more sexy times in this book than the previous 2 I've read by this author and some of it feels like it's there without purpose, I know what he's trying to achieve and I believe it could've been done with less sexy times and a bit more alluding to said sexy times.

It's gruesome, horrific, chilling and surprisingly heartbreaking, some of the things that happen throughout the backstory had me furious, disturbed and having violent thoughts against people (in the story, not in real life).

Overall, despite my thoughts about the sexy times, I really enjoyed this, you can see the building blocks he's used in this as he moves through the story, his descriptions of the island and the castle are wonderful, the tortured characters, some redeemable, some not, how the story builds and takes the turns it does. Yeah, the other 2 I read first ARE stronger but the base is there, the way he weaves the narrative, his descriptions and the wonderful humour breaking up the tension just when it needs it, nearly all superfluous pieces taken out, I loved it.

I'm impatiently waiting for the 11th July now when Castle of Sorrows is re-released and I can get my hands on that! I can't wait to see what happens next.

Do you see my point? If not I can't help you, there's a point in here somewhere, you just have to read between the lines to see it (and maybe have some coffee, that helps :D)

*Huge thanks to Jonathan Janz, Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for this copy which I chose to read and all opinions are my own*
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Whilst I enjoy reading lots of different genres, I must admit, I love a good horror story. This, my friends, is a good horror story. 

The story follows two Hollywood music composers, Ben and Eddie and their two assistants, Claire and Eva and their visit to The Sorrows. The Sorrows is an island off the coast of northern California owned by the exceptionally rich Blackwood family. The island is home to Castle Blackwood where in 1925 it was the scene of a gruesome multiple murder and has since been uninhabited. As Ben is suffering from the composers form of writes block Eddie feels that this is the place to help Ben get his mojo back. He couldn’t be more wrong. 

Whilst the story was a little twisted in places, it flowed well and I enjoyed the writer’s storytelling style. I would definitely read another book by this author. 

Many thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my opinion.
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Review copy

I was a bit late to the party when it came to discovering the work of Jonathan Janz.  As a result, I totally missed The Sorrows when it was originally published by Samhain Publishing in 2012.

When Samhain ceased operations on March 1, 2017 many great works went out of print, including this debut from one of the most popular horror writers working today.

The Sorrows presents the reader with a wonderful cast of characters secluded at Castle Blackwood located on a private island known as The Sorrorws.  Eighty miles off the coast of northern California and the site of one of America's strangest unsolved mysteries.

There are more than a few cringe-worthy moments including this little gem...

"A hand slipped inside Chris’s boxer shorts, the scalpel tracing an almost delicate line down his penis, the sharp point pausing on the shriveled tip and grinding into the urethra. Chris groaned, the voice rasping at his ear, '…so many places I can dig.'"

The Sorrows is a wonderful example of a place exercising its influence over its occupants.  Gothic horror at its finest.

Janz's first novel shows the promise of greatness and in the years since its release, the author has matured into one of today's leading horror writers.  One whose work is looked forward to by many readers, including this one.

With all its horror and disgusting moments, The Sorrows is secretly a love story.  I dare you to prove me wrong on this one.

If you missed The Sorrows when it was first released, be sure to read it now.

Fully recommended.

This re-release of The Sorrows is published by Flame Tree Press and is available now in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and Audible formats.

From the author's bio - Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories.  His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Horror.  Additionally, his novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year.  Jonathan's main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children.
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Amazing story! This is the third I've read by Janz, and I've loved every page of it. He writes horror like no other, can't wait to see what he comes out with next!
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I really wanted to enjoy this one but when a horror has more sex in it than a romance novel and doesn't really add much to the plot it annoys me. I thought the plot was all over the place as well which so many different things going on and I just didn't find it enjoyable. I haven't gave up on this author as I enjoyed the first one I read of his so hopefully his others won't be so sex field and just be a good horror novel.
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A decent horror novel with some gory and very disturbing scenes. A good pick for fans of the genre but may be a little too weird and stomach churning for some..
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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this (already released) novel in exchange for an honest review. 

I found this novel overall slightly disappointing. It wasn't overly bad or awful or even distasteful by any means; the concept was well thought out and the writing is, for the most part, pretty good. However, a story is built on its characters and moves with the author's ability to build and uncover them as flawed beings. This novel, has terrible characterization. Setting aside the fact that the majority of the characters are blatant cliche's, the author leaves no room for these people to breathe in the environment and grow. In this respect the reader (ME) fails to connect with them. This ultimately leads to the book's downfall because without a character to root for, or somebody that we care about, I'm just flipping pages and waiting for them to die.

A sad 2.5/5 stars, downgraded due to overall unenjoyment.
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I love a good horror book. This was my first time reading this author but not my last. I love to find a curious read with amazing suspense. The setting was one of the best parts with intriguing characters,  non stop action is also a must as you can lose interest without it. Mostly the story was very good and I recommend it. Thank you!
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The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find inspiration for a horror film.
But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century. And he's ready to feed.
*Disclosure - I received a free copy for purposes of an honest review*

This is definitely a more slow burn novel that creeps up on you, giving you that uneasy feeling and putting you on edge.
The characters are each realistically flawed and interesting; this book does have sexual scenes, some scenes of violence and gore. This did not bother me as it flows with books plot.
If you have read anything by Janz then you will probably be aware that he has a talent for the darkest depths of hell and horror. The Sorrows represents the beginning of his journey, and also shows much he has honed his craft since then.
There are a few story lines in this novel, all keep you the edge of your seat with bated breath waiting to see what would happen next! We have a diary from the past talking about a mysterious little boy called Gabriel and the wrongdoing and terror that occurred on the island in 1925.
While the foursome are the island, things start off being just a little bit spooky. Strange sightings take place, violent apparitions, voices are heard and take control of people, mirrored walls and secret passages, the brutality of some of the characters, and finally the goat hooves beast of the island.
Then tension builds in the books with little tidbits of supernatural. The tension, it was palpable as you delve further into the mystery of the island and the past. A couple of things I felt were a bit too unexplained but I think it that it added to the magic of the book, because let us be honest when you watch films the unexpected always happens!
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A cast of complex characters in a wonderfully haunting setting, atmospheric and completely engrossing.
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This is the second book I've read by Jonathan Janz. I thought I'd try again after the Siren and the Specter was just ok to me. While the setup, story, and atmosphere of the Sorrows were interesting, the sexual violence is too over the top and weird for me. I don't mind the gore either, but there's a limit to what the human body can take and still walk and talk and breathe. Considering the topic of the book, it's strange to say I find that part far-fetched but there you have it.
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This is the third book by Jonathan Janz that I've read so far, I think, and not one of the stories has been similar to the others - the stories are all highly original, unflinchingly nasty and really well written.

The story takes place on an island called The Sorrows, were a couple of movie composers and their entourage go for a month to seek inspiration. One thing leads to another, as it so often does, and now a supernatural entity with cloven hooves and a penchant for classical music is out for blood.

The characters in this book are excellent, a split between decent human beings, standard grey-area and some absolute monstrosities. It takes the entire course of the novel to find out who is who though, which is why I was gripped from the start.

The pacing of this novel surprised me, I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting but an action packed horror thriller wasn't it. 'Action packed horror thrillers' are now something I'll be actively looking out for in future.
What I mean by this is that you get all of your visceral nastiness, genuine horror AND lots of it within a short space of time with enough suspense to keep you on edge throughout.
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I grew up with a love of horror. Especially hauntings. Having read and enjoyed other books by Jonathan Janz, I was curious to go back and read his debut book. It’s fun to find new authors who give you terrific scary stories and then go back to see what their first books were like. I’m happy to say Jonathan’s writing was just as strong, just as creepy then, as it is now.

What did I get? Two guys are scrambling to meet a looming deadline to produce a score for a horror movie. Lack of inspiration leads to desperate measures and they, along with a few others, head off to an isolated island for motivation. Castle Black, also known as The Sorrows because of its sordid history, seems like the perfect place to find some. Until it isn’t.

This book had me coming and going. You learn about the terrible and mysterious history of what happened long ago on the island. And what happened to others later on who got too curious.

Let’s talk about this latest group of visitors to the cursed island. I didn’t like any of them. I tried to find something to redeem them, but never did. That’s okay. Now and then I like to be on team evil. And I don’t always have to bond with the character’s to enjoy a good story. Especially with horror genres. I can have fun discovering how they meet their maker or pay the price for being so stupid to go there in the first place. Not saying I believe in the supernatural. But, I’ve seen a lot of movies. read a lot of books, and I have a healthy dose of what if. No way would I have went there.

Strange occurrences and plenty of spooky vibes kept this story moving at a steady pace as the island worked its evil intentions, and the author took me to some weird places. Glad I read this. It shows that from the very beginning Janz knew his horror.
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This was my first Jonathan Janz book and it definitely will not be my last! I love the horror genre, but honestly before recently hadn’t ventured too far into horror books rather than just horror movies, and what a great intro! 

The Sorrows reads like you are watching a really well done horror movie. You’re scared, unsettled and hoping for vengeance in equal measure throughout the story! Janz’s writing really sucked me in and had me consistently coming back to the story for more. I loved that the book never felt like it lagged in any place and every character’s story added more content to the overall plot. The overall sinister feel of the island was present in every single scene. I really enjoyed how subtly Janz was able to add a creepiness or uneasiness to scenes without being overtly horrific, especially at first. 

Another great aspect of this book for me was how well Janz writes his characters. Some I really enjoyed, some were mediocre because they were supposed to be mediocre, and some I could not wait until they reached their bitter ends! One of the terrifying and fascinating aspects of the island was that it played off of each character’s flaws, mistakes and worst fears. So, not only does the reader get to ultimately see what supernatural monster haunts the island, but we also get to see how far seemingly normal people can go when their most monstrous tendencies are brought to the forefront.

I had so much fun reading this and will definitely be checking out more of his work!
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The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.
The Sorrows follows the sorry of Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze two horror film composers.
They are currently struggling into getting their latest score produced, when Eddie decides to take them to a remote island to give Ben some inspiration!
The remote island AKA The Sorrows holds an ancient evil history, full of gruesome murderous past!
What could possibly go wrong for Shadeland & Blaze?
Upon leaving for the island they are companied by Intern Claire and Eva, all seems fine and going to plan on the island, when they start thinking mysterious things and their angry that is already bubbling is intensified by the castle to boiling point.
This is my first read of @jonathan.janz and it certainly won't be my last, along the story we meet sideline characters which adds more depth to the whole prose.
The enjoyed the storyline and how everything interlocks together, I loved delving into the back story which Janz wrote to absolute perfection!!
The only slight issue I had with it, is that there is a certain scene when a certain person gets well and truly injured 🤕 but some how can push past this and carry on. TBH I would love this superpower be like a real life Superman! 😂
All in all and well rounded and thoroughly enjoyable book, that makes me what to check out more of Janz work!
Have you read any Janz? What do you recommend!? Come and let me know ...
3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me. 🤓
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I did not finish this book. It wasn't at all what I expected and unfortunately was not the book for me I found it to 'mixed up' .
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Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are a great team. They’ve made a name for themselves creating music for movies and are highly in demand. But Ben is in a slump since his wife left him and took their son, Joshua. He can’t seem to write a note. Eddie is desperate to get Ben writing again, as there is a deadline looming for an upcoming horror movie, House of Skin. In the past, Eddie has taken Ben to spooky places to inspire him, and he has an idea for a great place that would definitely put Ben back on his game.

Chris Blackwood is also having a rough time. After watching the Warriors loose, Chris realizes he is up to nearly $500,000 owed to his bookie. Desperate to repay the money and not ask his father for help, he rents the family island, The Sorrows, to Eddie. Chris hopes the infusion of funds will get his bookie off his back for the time-being until he figures out how to get the rest of the money. Eddie hopes the island will inspire Ben to finish the score for the movie. Not only is Castle Blackwood, the only home that stands on the island, an eerie place, but there is also a locked tower, a pit, and an intriguing unsolved mystery. It also has a recording studio from the island’s original owner and Chris’s ancestor, Robert Blackwood.

Ben, Eddie, Claire (a young promising composer) and Eva (the movie director’s assistant) fly to the island, where they will be left for a month, no less. While there are plenty of provisions for the group, there are no means of communication. No cell phone coverage, no internet, nothing. They are stuck, for better or for worse. 

There is some bad history on the island from the original owner’s days, relayed to the reader through the journals of a former caretaker that is peppered through the story. Chris had a horrible experience as boy in the castle. There were also a bunch of academics that visited in the late 1970s and met with an unhappy ending.

This is much more than a haunted house story. The story was enjoyable with plenty of atmosphere and weirdness. Almost as soon as the group arrives on the island, strange things began happening. My only complaint is the end. I could have done without some of that. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s read, but as we closed in on the climax, something occurred. Then something else occurred, at which point I was like – really?! Aren’t we done yet? And then something else went wrong. At that point, I was just wanted to finish the damn book already. Overall though, I really enjoyed the book. The end just soured things for me a bit.
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Super freaky. This is the kind of book that can keep a reader awake all night, too petrified to switch off the light!
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