I’ve read a number of Gary Fry’s works and I think this is one of the best, if not the best, narratives he’s written. A number of reviewers draw comparisons to Lovecraft. I can’t comment on the accuracy of this. I’ve read only one Lovecraft tale and didn’t like it at all. Siren of Depravity, though, is one mind-blowing read and I was hooked from the beginning. The tale is a slow burn, no doubt about it. But, this slow burn is insidious. There’s an icy chill just below the surface, and I found myself being propelled forward with the occasional nuggets of sheer creepiness that would appear in the story. Clues about the past of the characters are disclosed in a well-paced manner and the story-arc is unsettling and gruesome. The finale is pulse-pounding with a couple of jolts that I didn’t see coming. The characters are fully realized, even the secondary ones, which really enhances this well-told tale. A solid horror novel.
This is a chilling coming of age story that works primarily because of the believable characters. The main protagonist is a teenage boy struggling with raising his little sister with no help from their drug addicted mother. Will is a gifted baseball player who happens to be from a poor and broken family. He is best friends with kids from a much higher SES than his, and madly in love with a girl just out of his reach. This teenage drama within the context of a rich vs. poor small town world is well drawn. Janz is a horror writer, though, and two parallel stories involving hideous creatures in the woods and a serial killer who eats his child victims are soon introduced. The author ramps up the scares and the excitement involving his adolescent characters, and the reader is caught in the onslaught. The last 20-25% of the book is non-stop action and the story falters a little as the mayhem becomes redundant. A heavy editing hand might’ve helped here. Still, Children of the Dark is a blast and I loved it.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.