(This is a semi-review because I am only reviewing one story from the anthology at this time.)
Until this short story, I had not yet had the pleasure of reading a Jonathan Janz story, despite the fact that I own one of his books (planning to read it this year) and have had numerous conversations with him.
When I saw that his story had been included in a collection of some very impressive authors - and that it was for charity (children's literacy, an amazing cause) - I quickly rushed to Amazon to pick up a copy (by "quickly" I mean "as soon as I finished reading his blog post").
It was Monday night and I was watching Raw (yes, I watch wrestling - shut.it) while doing some research online and occasionally taking a look at Facebook to see if anything interesting was going on. Jonathan was thanking those of us that gave him kudos and he made a remark that sounded, at least to me, like he didn't feel worthy to be included in an anthology with such big names.
Well, Mr Janz, you were wrong.
I put wrestling on mute (THIS is a big deal) and opened the book to his story. I quickly became engulfed in what was happening on the page, so much so that I completely missed my phone ring, the timer go off in the kitchen - and my mother talking to me.
This is what writing is supposed to do for readers - make the world disappear, pull them into the world the author created.
I expect a lot from people who write horror. I expect to be scared, to be creeped out, to lay in bed thinking about the story. I expect to be frightened - I mean, it is horror. Now, because I've lived in Florida and Texas only (two states that don't do basements), I can't FULLY comprehend a fear of this particular room BUT I have seen plenty of horror movies that had a creepy one and I've had a creepy attic and creepy shed in my lifetime, so I know what it is to be scared of a "room." (The shed, in particular, was the cause of many nightmares.) The way he describes the things going on, plus the characters (especially the little boy's real father) - I'm telling you, my heart was racing. And the mother doesn't help any with her awful discipline choice (I'm sorry, Ris and Idgie, for ever telling you that there's a monster that eats toys you leave on the floor). The whole thing culminates in this powerful ending that leaves you thinking "What the hell?!?!"and enough unanswered questions to keep you wondering.
All I can say is - Thank you!!
(I'll be reading more of these stories as the year goes by.)