The Sorrows

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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..
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
A cast of complex characters in a wonderfully haunting setting, atmospheric and completely engrossing.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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. 🤓
Was this review helpful?
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' .
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Super freaky. This is the kind of book that can keep a reader awake all night, too petrified to switch off the light!
Was this review helpful?
"The Sorrows" was a re-release from a few years ago and Janz has written much better books since, compare this to his most recent novel also published by Flame Tree Press to see what I mean. I was also surprised this was not reedited since the previous edition, as I would have thought that a much more experienced author would have tightened it  up.

It starts interesting enough - a pair of film sound experts are in charge of the sound expert of an upcoming horror film. They both have their own issues and problems which develop with the book. As one of the men is having a mental block they decide to retreat to an island with a reputation for being haunted for inspiration. This is where things start to kick off.

Once on the island the supernatural element kicks it, however, it was fairly uninspiring and I've read it all before and the creature was pretty dumb and cliched. The setting was great, as was the stuff with the film, the personal disintegrations and the family problems.

As debut novels go this was pretty good, but I'm surprised it's been re-released.
Was this review helpful?
This is the second novel of Janz’s that I have read within the past couple of months.  I absolutely loved his latest novel, The Siren and the Spectre which has become one of my favourites.  The story is still wedged within my subconscious months after I read this great book.

The Sorrows is Janz’s first novel which is getting a reprint debut.  The book is interesting and it has a terrific ending that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until its final heart stopping conclusion.  This is a novel that works but starts a little shaky which I will get into.

The characters are overall quite unlikable.  I found the main character Ben and Claire to be a bit wet and the surrounding characters not very likable.  At the beginning, especially with the history, some of the names were a bit too similar and I was getting a little confused but as the story and back story gets stronger, this does get ironed out.  Ben and Claire do go through a metamorphous through the plot twists and turns that you do become fully invested with them by the end.  The rest of the character arcs are pretty stable and let’s just say people get their just desserts.  

The plot is a rip roaring page turner that eases you into the mystery of The Sorrows.  The story is fleshed out with diary entries from the early 1900’s giving you some clues to the mystery involved.  It does mention a group of people who investigated the island who disappeared except for one medium.  This piqued my interest and would have loved to hear more but as there are no survivors, it makes sense not to include more information about this but my curiosity was indeed piqued.   

The history of the Sorrows is fascinating and Janz has done a great job about the inner workings of the main narrative and this adds to the pathos to the story.  This part of the story kept me fully immersed and intrigued.   This book is frightening and haunts your dreams long after putting down the novel.  

The book is an absolute treat that keeps you fully involved and it is simply hard to put down.  I have missed plenty of tube stops by passing change overs due to being totally involved with the excellent plotting and story.  I had to find out where this was going.  I really have nothing negative to say because even as I started this review talking about unlikable characters, I felt that the pay off by the end was well worth the price of admission to this terrifying novel.  

This is a sure fire winner and one that shows the road that Janz will go down with his career.  Strong characters, great plotting devices framed throughout with history, back story and keeping it all masterfully maintained within the plot.  This is an interesting and horrific story and another winner from Janz.  It is interesting to see an author of this calibre and their origins.  This is a strong debut from a now very accomplished author.  Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
After reading The Siren and the Specter earlier this year, I knew that I wanted to read more from Jonathan Janz. I was very excited to receive an ARC of The Sorrows from Flame Tree Press! This is actually Janz's first novel, and it did not disappoint. 

The pacing of the story was perfect for me- I loved that there was a bit of suspense from the very beginning, and there was never a lull in the action. Janz does a great job setting the scene and his characters are well written. I found myself invested in the "good guys" and appalled by some of the villains. The cruelest of characters got what was coming to them, which was very satisfying to read! 

The Sorrows is a creepy and engaging novel, and I cannot wait to read its sequel, as well as every other novel from this author! Jonathan Janz has secured a place on my insta-buy authors list going forward. This one gets 4.5 stars from me!
Was this review helpful?
You get a fair idea of what to expect within the first chapter or so. Okay that’s a lie, Janz loves to spring the unexpected on his readers and his poor characters.

I like the idea of the odd codependent relationship between Ben and Eddie. The whole deal with the devil to achieve ultimate success and wealth. The way Eddie is willing to go to such extreme measures to get Ben motivated or rather to get his creative juices flowing, well it borders on negligence. What he perceives to be amusing others would consider to be reckless and dangerous. Not exactly what I would call a great friend.

I’m not sure the group really understands the stress and pain Chris is going through. Life as he knows it is in tatters, and having to deal with a vindictive ex-wife who is alienating their young son from him, is destroying him physically and mentally. It makes Chris a liability and someone who is willing to take a big risk, Not exactly unusual for a gambler, which is how and why he ends up letting the risk craving group enter Castle Blackwood.

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.

Low level male chauvinism and misogyny is alive and well in the men, and the women are objectified. Well, except for evil ex-wife perhaps. The sexual escapades seem more like gratuitous fillers and the horror is on the other end of the extreme.

Saying all that, the talent doesn’t go unnoticed and is clearly evident in this first novel. What I really liked, especially at the beginning of the book, was the way Ben and Eddie reacted to each other and the events. It was almost as if Janz wrote each part without either character knowing what the other was going to do, and that surprise comes through bold as brass.

Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.
Was this review helpful?