Shane Briant has made a stunning debut into the world of horror. Worst Nightmares is great scarefest in the style of Stephen King.
Author Dermot Nolan is suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. Because of this, his life is slowing falling apart. His wife, Neela, wants to start a family, but there are bills to pay. When a mysterious manuscript is dropped off anonymously at his house, he first sees it as just a fan who wants his help to get published. However, as he starts reading the scariest story he has ever read – a tale of multiple, innovative, gruesome murders told from the remorseless point of view of the serial killer who calls himself The Dream Healer – he thinks it might be the answer to his prayers. The author, Arnold, contacts him a few times, but then commits suicide in front of Dermot. This is the go-ahead he needs to make the story his own. As he begins to investigate the crimes from the manuscript, he begins to think it is more of a diary than a work of fiction. Nevertheless, he pens the book as his own, setting it in Australia, and it becomes an overnight sensation. However, there is more to Arnold than Dermot realizes, and soon his and Neela’s lives are on the line, building to a thrilling conclusion.
Worst Nightmares is a very good first attempt at a horror novel. It has the chills and suspense needed to keep the reader interested, it has some sick, twisted stuff that makes the reader pause, but still want to keep going, and it has a great pace for the majority of the story. However, it is not without problems. First, it starts off a little slow as it is unclear for the first fifty pages how The Dream Healer and Dermot fit together. Second, Dermot is not all that likeable, especially at first when he appears a little strung-out and whiny. Third, the characters have a necessary but infuriating bout of stupidity when they are convinced that Arnold is dead when plenty of doubts have been raised. And finally, the twist was a little too obvious as I was able to figure it out with about a hundred pages still to go.
Despite its downfalls, Worst Nightmares will delight any horror fan. Shane Briant is definitely an author to watch as I am sure he will fix these problems with his subsequent attempts. Just a word of warning though for those who like a story with a solid conclusion: the ending of Worst Nightmares is more along the post-modern vein.
- Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Vanguard Press (March 30, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159315576X
- ISBN-13: 978-1593155766
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