The Nightmare Man

J.H. Markert

Horror Thriller

T. Kingfisher meets Cassandra Khaw in a chilling horror novel that illustrates the fine line between humanity and monstrosity.

Blackwood mansion looms, surrounded by nightmare pines, atop the hill over the small town of New Haven. Ben Bookman, bestselling novelist and heir to the Blackwood estate, spent a weekend at the ancestral home to finish writing his latest horror novel, The Scarecrow. Now, on the eve of the book’s release, the terrible story within begins to unfold in real life.

Detective Mills arrives at the scene of a gruesome murder: a family butchered and bundled inside cocoons stitched from corn husks, and hung from the rafters of a barn, eerily mirroring the opening of Bookman’s latest novel. When another family is killed in a similar manner, Mills, along with his daughter, rookie detective Samantha Blue, is determined to find the link to the book—and the killer—before the story reaches its chilling climax.

As the series of “Scarecrow crimes” continues to mirror the book, Ben quickly becomes the prime suspect. He can’t remember much from the night he finished writing the novel, but he knows he wrote it in The Atrium, his grandfather’s forbidden room full of numbered books. Thousands of books. Books without words.

As Ben digs deep into Blackwood’s history he learns he may have triggered a release of something trapped long ago—and it won’t stop with the horrors buried within the pages of his book.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) This concludes my spooky October reads, this was the perfect end!

Ben is a horror writer that with his latest release, has found that someone is copycatting his most gruesome serial killer story.

With a premise like that, how do I pass this up? I was part of the cover reveal months ago and since then, I’ve been excited to get my hands on an actual copy. Luckily, Crooked Lane Books was willing to accommodate.

Right away, you’re thrown into the midst of the crime and the discovery. Yes! Ok, it was a bit gruesome, but I expected that. The author promised to scare me to death so I was fully prepared. From there we meet the most wholesome and real characters that make up this small town. Markert did a great job endearing me to each one. I find that is so rare in horror novels, most characters are lacking quite a bit of personality since they are typically going to be killed off. I found myself rooting for these characters and cringing if something went wrong for them. I wanted them to survive!

The story itself was fascinatingly unique. I admit I’m more of a thriller reader than horror, but I’ve read my fair share of horror and this was expertly mapped out. What an outline he had to have! Nightmares are on a different level for people, especially in this town. Imagine those nightmares coming true? Fear was expertly spread. People and events and the past all trickled it’s way throughout the story until the big explosion at the end. Yes, I was here for all of it!

I still have a few questions about the book but I will put those on Goodreads so as to not spoil the story (Goodreads has an option to hide spoilers). Ultimately, I enjoyed this one. I would’ve preferred more “real” aspects in the end and not paranormal because that’s what truly scares me. But I will probably be in the minority on that aspect. This was truly an exciting story!

If you’re looking for a unique, well-written story that will have you rethinking your childhood nightmares check this one out!

General content summary: There were definitely some gruesome details in the crime scenes and other cases, but it wasn’t overdone. I cringed a bit but wasn’t grossed out. It had more of a thriller feel IMO so I didn’t get that creepy feeling that can overwhelm you. It is still more intense for some more sensitive readers so note the content details I’ve listed;

F words: 20+, language, multiple ADD/ADHD pills (amphetamines, cocaine), missing young girl, gruesomely placed bodies found hanging (details), alcohol (alcoholism, multiple), in a public place a man shoots himself (suicide, some details), previous missing children (multiple), previous spousal death, narcolepsy and sleepwalking (multiple), exceeding recommended dosage of sleeping pills (multiple), many nightmares, murder crime scene (blood, details), previous parental deaths (car accident , some details), previous intimacy (few details), previous AIDS death, previous “fondling” of a patient, previous drugs and alcohol leading to neglect of a child, hard drugs (multiple references), cigarette, previous self harm (scars, multiple references), previous intimacy (very few details, multiple), previous attempted suicide then suicide (few details), unintentionally breaking a child’s arm, previous cases and killings (some details), wet dream (some details), multiple children’s bodies found (no details), previous attempted rapist (some details), reference to self intimacy, previous self harm (multiple scars), possession (multiple), previous infidelity (multiple), many gruesome details about bodies (wounds, torture, cannibalism etc), “bloodbath” killing of many, previous child physical abuse (no details), previous suicides (few details), gunshot wound, suicide (some details), gunshot death and multiple other deaths (some details, blood), previous killing/torturing animals, axe injury and death.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for the gifted copy!

The book releases January 10, 2023.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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