ARC review, horror

ARC review: The Nightmare Man by J.H. Markert

Ben Bookman’s latest horror novel has just been released when the murders start.

Detective Mills is convinced that the brutal killings are connected to the novelist in the same way as all the weird crimes that plague his small town of Crooked Tree – the Bookman’s dark family secret, somehow linked to a room in their ancestral home full of blank books.

If Detective Mills can solve this crime, not only will he stop a murderer, he might end the nightmares that fill his sleep.

I’ve had terrifying, vivid nightmares since I was a child, so I knew I had to read this book when I saw it on Netgalley. I’m fascinated by dreams and nightmares, and a book about nightmares possibly coming to life really captured my interest.

This novel starts out as a classic horror thriller, reminiscent of King or Koontz from the 1980’s, replete with hard boiled police, alcoholic writers, wise children, and (briefly) a dog. It’s tense, exciting, and hints at dark secrets that lie beneath the Mayberry-esque surface of Crooked Tree.

However, as the novel progresses, it delves into dark fantasy. Nightmares and nightmare imagery becomes prominent as the layers are peeled back and the more paranormal elements of the story are exposed.

What if a nightmare could become real? How would you capture it? How could it be stopped? I love stories that explore these ideas. Thinking of some of my nightmares, it would be very bad for the world if they became reality, so it is an inherently terrifying concept.

I loved the nightmare mythology and world building that forms the backbone of this book, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I wish the book had delved deeper into these elements rather than some of the more standard horror thriller tropes, as they were so fascinating and original. I don’t wish to spoil anything, so all I can say is that I loved the magical idea that is central to the novel and I couldn’t get enough of it. It really captured my imagination.

I found the ending slightly disappointing, not because it was unsatisfying, but because it relied once again on more horror thriller tropes and I think a deep dive into the fantastical would have served it better. The asylum full of criminals with names like The Boogeyman, The Toothfairy, and The Scarecrow unfortunately reminded me of Arkham and Batman, and detracted from the tension at the denouement.

If you love stories about dreams and nightmares, you will want to grab a copy of this book when it’s published.

The Nightmare Man will be released on January 10th 2023.

I award The Nightmare Man

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC. I’m voluntarily leaving an honest review.

6 thoughts on “ARC review: The Nightmare Man by J.H. Markert”

    1. I wouldn’t say that so much as it’s a mix of genres and I would have liked it to embrace the fantasy side more than the procedural side, and some of the details about the killings got a little rushed at the end. It’s a very enjoyable book with a great concept that I highly recommend but I doubt if I’d read it again.

      Liked by 1 person

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