The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz – An ARC Book Review

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review

First, I’d like to thank NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for letting me have this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I went looking for a Horror book in NetGalley’s categories and found this gem. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Look at this cover! It’s fantastic! I do love a good horror novel and I wasn’t sure what to expect but there are so many good things that I have to say about this one. In this post I’ll be keeping it spoiler free, outside of the description of the book from NetGalley and the occasional character name referenced. This is be more about what I liked about the book overall and just how I felt as I read it.

So let’s start with the Book’s description…

Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’s most brilliant and horrible creation. The Dark Game.

NetGalley Description

This book is big, 352 pages, it’s broken into five parts and I think that really makes sense with just how much information we needed as we went. The chapters will go back and forth, between different characters but it works for me. The characters all have their moments and they are wonderfully written moments that I enjoyed learning more about each person as I went. I did immediately have two favorite characters, I won’t say who, I don’t know if the author did that intentionally given how this book ends but I took to them over all others right away.

It flows really well even with the bouncing between this and that, it moves at a good pace that you don’t feel bored at any point of reading. The descriptions were perfect for me, I don’t like overly wordy descriptions of the rooms and surroundings but I don’t like barely anything. The vocabulary use was great, there were even some words that I’d never heard of before and had to look up. Of course my favorite was solipsistic, I knew that one because it’s used in one of my fav’s “You” by Caroline Kepnes, but learning the definition it’s just a great word.

When her eyes adjusted, she realized they were rolling through a murky forest, the swirled turnks and gnarled, low-hanging brances reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm.

Jonathan Janz – The Dark Game – Quotes may be subject to change in final release.

It is vulgar. Sex, Violence, Depravity. It’s all here and I think you have to really be okay with reading that because it’s not for everyone. There are scenes that are very intense and even slightly nauseating but I’m someone that expects that out of an Adult book as well as out of a horror. It isn’t out of place or shoved in just for shock value. I didn’t feel like it was gratuitous either, it was all well placed and made sense for the moments or the characters that were involved.

What I really loved about The Dark Game was the characterization! Jonathan Janz just a phenomenal job with creating these characters. From the host, Wells, to the ten writers that have come to compete. Each was different, each with their distinct personalities, motivations, secrets and stories that have brought them to this ‘retreat’. I have to give kudos to being able to delve into the minds of ten characters, develop them and bring them to a point where you are interested what happens to them.

He tried to smile. “What’s wrong?”

She shivered, scratched her forearm. “I don’t know. It’s just so…”


“…haunted housey. I didn’t expect it to be this secluded. If something goes wrong, how will anyone know?

What’s going to happen? he almost asked. But for some reason, faced with this towering, eldritch structure, it felt like tempting fate.

Jonathan Janz – The Dark Game – Quotes may be subject to change in final release.

Reading about each person, learning about them, either you love them, hate them, pity them or are disgusted by them. Either way the writing in this book makes you feel something and that is what I want in a book. I wanted to know more, I wanted to understand these characters and the events and experiences that brought them to play The Dark Game.

The ending also was a perfect end, it went in a way that I was hoping but not quite what I expected. It worked and it felt right. After I finished, I sat wondering about when I’m going to finish my novel. Reading about ten writers, with hopes of becoming published, reading their works in progress over the course of the retreat made me feel inspired as someone that wants to finish her own horror novel.

I haven’t read any of his other books but reading this makes me want to read them all. I can recommend this book enough! It’s currently available for pre-order. Check out the links below to buy the book as well as follow the author!

The Dark Game comes out April 11th. BUY THIS BOOK!!

Not Affiliate Links

Read this book or any of his others? Share with me your thoughts! I’d love to hear recommendations as well!!

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0 thoughts on “The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz – An ARC Book Review

  1. I’m really digging the author writing about authors and a writer’s retreat, every now and again I feel the urge to read a horror novel so I’m definitely going to keep this one in mind because I feel next time in in the horror mood, I’ll want to read this. Thanks for the review!

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