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.