The Sorrows

The Sorrows

by Jonathan Janz


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"Anyone who likes a good ghost story is going to enjoy The Sorrows. Anyone who likes a ghost story where there’s no doubt the ghosts are undoubtedly real will love this novel." - New York Journal of Books

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781787580565
Publisher: Flame Tree Publishing
Publication date: 11/30/2018
Series: Fiction Without Frontiers
Edition description: New
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 798,038
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

Since then Jonathan's work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith, and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz's Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School Library Journal, and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan's primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Janz at


What is the book about?

Basically, in the early part of the 20th Century, a selfish composer kidnaps (or adopts) a child he hears playing a musical instrument in a Greek forest. The composer exploits the child and steals his music in order to become famous himself. Eventually, the child rebels. The child also isn’t what he appears to be. The composer locks the child in a tower and leaves him for dead. For a week, the island’s inhabitants hear the child playing the piano. Finally, it falls silent. Six months later, it begins again.

What are the underlying themes?

It’s about the exploitation of innocence and the terrible results that evil act can bring about.

Did real life experiences bring about any of the plot of this tale?

Only my fears and insecurities as a father. Nothing matters more to me, but nothing makes me (sometimes) feel more inadequate. Those fears, as well as the debilitating fear of somehow losing my kids, inform this book.

What about the setting stimulated your imagination?

My wife’s sister lives in Santa Rosa, California, where part of this book takes place. It’s not far from the ocean. One day, we all drove out there and hiked along the coast, and the windswept view, the awesome power and the air of mystery, it all worked its magic on me.

What are some of your favorite books about haunted houses or castles?

I love HELL HOUSE (Richard Matheson), THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (Shirley Jackson), SARDONICUS (Ray Russell), and THE GREAT GOD PAN (which isn’t really a haunted house book, but is more a haunted person book).

Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?

Great question. This one, I’d say, is a weird fusion of Arthur Machen, Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, and Richard Laymon. Oh, with a little bit of James Herbert thrown in for good measure.

Is there any advice you can give someone starting to write?

You will only succeed if you love it, if you burn to write. If you’re not passionate about it, you need to get out, because that passion and determination will keep you going when things go badly. And they will go badly. You’ll be rejected, you’ll be discouraged, you’ll be told you’re not good enough. You’ll likely experience soul-sucking self-doubt. But if you love it enough, you’ll stay with it. That’s how you climb. By not quitting.

Where did you write?

Like most of my novels, this one was written in my home, in my writing room. It’s an inspiring setting filled with books and an aura of magic.

Did you write in silence, or to any particular music?

I write to Baroque music. It’s the perfect fusion of mystery, passion, and energy, and listening to it, the words just flow from my fingertips to the page. It also drowns out the ambient noise that I sometimes find distracting.

What are you writing now?

At the moment I’m editing a post-apocalyptic novel (the first of a planned series) and working on the second CHILDREN OF THE DARK book.

Customer Reviews

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The Sorrows 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Stephen King you are going to love and enjoy this book. You wont regret it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...and that's not a bad thing, in this inventive, frightening multilayered debut chiller from Jonathan Janz. Hollywood movie music producers, Eddie Blaze and Ben Shadeland, decide to spend time at Castle Blackwood, situated on a remote island of the California coast. They need to complete the score for Lee Stanley's latest horror flick or else...and the spooky mysterious castle seemed perfect...until the weirdness and eventual horror begins. And the tower, where eerie music emanates...and the basement, where something out of darkest nightmares awaits... Janz cleverly intersperses the narrative with journal entry flashbacks, giving the reader necessary backstory, as the novel rushes to its heartstopping climax.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is similar to another book, "Hollywood Ghost Story" by Clive Barker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I did really like this book, there was a couple of times i was going to put it down but it kept drawing me back. I think the strange sex stuff was a lil overboard but i get why it was in the novel, it is a well thought out novel and i hope there will be a part two.
AmyGislason More than 1 year ago
Horror lovers will not be disappointed! I could not put this novel down..very suspenseful and graphic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought this was a creepy story with great characters
Cat_Cavendish 23 days ago
Great to see this back in print as it is a brilliant take on a familiar trope. Who doesn't love a haunted island with a sinister reputation? Add to that a cast of characters, each with their own flaws and back stories, and all the ingredients are there for a story that starts as a relatively slow burn but then builds irresistibly to an explosive ending with a last minute twist. I loved the characters (even when I hated them), all of whom had a part to play. In among the suspense and horror, there were genuine human traits and reactions - some less than savoury, others compassionate, others scared out of their wits (well, who wouldn't in their situations?) An early Jonathan Janz but one which demonstrates why he is so highly regarded. This was a great read - and he keeps on getting better.
Kamisha More than 1 year ago
Loved this supernatural horror story! This was my first Jonathan Janz book and it definitely will not be my last! I love the horror genre, but honestly before recently hadn’t ventured too far into horror books rather than just horror movies, and what a great intro! The Sorrows reads like you are watching a really well done horror movie. You’re scared, unsettled and hoping for vengeance in equal measure throughout the story! Janz’s writing really sucked me in and had me consistently coming back to the story for more. I loved that the book never felt like it lagged in any place and every character’s story added more content to the overall plot. The overall sinister feel of the island was present in every single scene. I really enjoyed how subtly Janz was able to add a creepiness or uneasiness to scenes without being overtly horrific, especially at first. Another great aspect of this book for me was how well Janz writes his characters. Some I really enjoyed, some were mediocre because they were supposed to be mediocre, and some I could not wait until they reached their bitter ends! One of the terrifying and fascinating aspects of the island was that it played off of each character’s flaws, mistakes and worst fears. So, not only does the reader get to ultimately see what supernatural monster haunts the island, but we also get to see how far seemingly normal people can go when their most monstrous tendencies are brought to the forefront. I had so much fun reading this and will definitely be checking out more of his work! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!
Keith Chawgo More than 1 year ago
This is the second novel of Janz’s that I have read within the past couple of months. I absolutely loved his latest novel, The Siren and the Spectre which has become one of my favourites. The story is still wedged within my subconscious months after I read this great book. The Sorrows is Janz’s first novel which is getting a reprint debut. The book is interesting and it has a terrific ending that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until its final heart stopping conclusion. This is a novel that works but starts a little shaky which I will get into. The characters are overall quite unlikable. I found the main character Ben and Claire to be a bit wet and the surrounding characters not very likable. At the beginning, especially with the history, some of the names were a bit too similar and I was getting a little confused but as the story and back story gets stronger, this does get ironed out. Ben and Claire do go through a metamorphous through the plot twists and turns that you do become fully invested with them by the end. The rest of the character arcs are pretty stable and let’s just say people get their just desserts. The plot is a rip roaring page turner that eases you into the mystery of The Sorrows. The story is fleshed out with diary entries from the early 1900’s giving you some clues to the mystery involved. It does mention a group of people who investigated the island who disappeared except for one medium. This piqued my interest and would have loved to hear more but as there are no survivors, it makes sense not to include more information about this but my curiosity was indeed piqued. The history of the Sorrows is fascinating and Janz has done a great job about the inner workings of the main narrative and this adds to the pathos to the story. This part of the story kept me fully immersed and intrigued. This book is frightening and haunts your dreams long after putting down the novel. The book is an absolute treat that keeps you fully involved and it is simply hard to put down. I have missed plenty of tube stops by passing change overs due to being totally involved with the excellent plotting and story. I had to find out where this was going. I really have nothing negative to say because even as I started this review talking about unlikable characters, I felt that the pay off by the end was well worth the price of admission to this terrifying novel. This is a sure fire winner and one that shows the road that Janz will go down with his career. Strong characters, great plotting devices framed throughout with history, back story and keeping it all masterfully maintained within the plot. This is an interesting and horrific story and another winner from Janz. It is interesting to see an author of this calibre and their origins. This is a strong debut from a now very accomplished author. Highly recommended.
Kaleena More than 1 year ago
The Sorrows is the first of many re-published backlist titles from Jonathan Janz and was his first book. It was originally published in 2012 and has been out of print for some time, and I am so glad that this and his other work is being re-released! The story follows Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze, a Hollywood composer duo trying to beat the deadline for the score for the next horror film from renowned director Lee Stanley. Ben’s had a bit of creative block since his horrible wife divorced him, and Eddie has taken to haunting legends in Northern California to scare Ben into inspiration. Eddie has one last trick up his sleeve before their time is up: a month on an isolated island off the coast of Northern California called The Sorrows with an unsolved mystery attached to it. The characters honestly are the gem of this story. Honestly, the exposition and character description in the first 20% of the book was incredible and never felt info-dumpy. I felt like these were real people that I knew. Which makes it more alarming as the characters stop acting like themselves; or rather, the darkest parts of themselves are amplified. Every character is fighting their own personal demons… and real ones. Having read both his latest and now first works, I can see the growth Janz has experienced as a writer but his raw talent is palpable. He has a command of writing that sucks the reader into the story and grips them start to finish. I enjoy that Janz juxtaposes supernatural horror elements with the horror and depravity of the human condition. I also appreciated the many allusions, implicit and called out, to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Like the other books I have read by this author, I was captivated by the horrors. This book took a bit longer to build into the “NOPE” note territory for me, but the last 40% of the book was a nonstop ride on the nope train! My blood was pumping and I was anxious to see what would happen, hoping that the horrible characters would get their just desserts, and completely enthralled by what I will refer to as Gabriel. I really liked the allusions made there and I hope that is further explored in the series! While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I did struggle with the many characters and multiple perspectives, and the pacing was a little inconsistent in the middle. Some of the first flashback asides felt really disjointed to me; however, the payoff was incredible: the multiple perspectives tied together and the extra time dedicated to exposition when I was looking for action was made up for in spades. For me personally, I wish that there were a few less characters woven together and that the journal exposition was somehow tied into the plot (like Ben or someone finding them and reading along with the reader), but honestly for a first book I am utterly impressed. Overall, I really enjoyed The Sorrows a lot, and cannot wait for the sequel because THAT FINAL LINE! There is a lot of intricate backstory and interesting exposition, the horror doesn’t really get started until 60% or so. But the book is scary and the payoff for multiple characters and POVs is there. I actually think this would adapt well to the screen and make an incredible movie. If you like Edgar Allan Poe and films like The Amityville horror, I highly recommend this book! content warnings: torture, gore, abuse of power (a Harvey Weinstein-like character), murder, abuse, fatshaming (challenged and addressed), voyeurism, attempted rape
coachtim30 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Janz's, "The Sorrows", is a creepy, atmospheric thriller that's reminiscent of some of Richard Laymon's better books. Janz writes in a style that is as interesting, as it is descriptive. He doesn't "dumb down" to horror aficionados, like a lot of horror authors do, which this reader really appreciated. Keep your dictionary handy because you'll need it as you work your way through "The Sorrows". The story revolves around two musicians who decide to spend some time at a (supposed) haunted castle in order to drum up some material for a film score that they have to create quickly. What they discover turns their inspiration into perspiration as they battle for their lives. The characterization of the novel is terrific - especially the bad guys. As I found out when reading an earlier work of Janz' ("Old Order"), he appears to have a great time writing from the evil side of his personality. The star of the novel, however, is the castle known as "The Sorrows". Located off the coast of California, the castle holds plenty of aforementioned secrets that the protagonists discover should have been left alone. This supernatural story really picks up the pace after the first third of the book as the body count and creepiness factors increase. There are plenty of twists and turns in this book which will keep even the most inveterate horror fan guessing.I really like what I saw here from this relatively new author. He does remind me of a younger version of Richard Laymon, though writing at a higher level. I think Laymon fans will be pleased.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story line. Great late night read for any horror fan.
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ChrisMaelyn More than 1 year ago
There are so many twists and turns in this debut full-length horror novel by Jonathan Janz. Mr. Janz captures the reader's attention on page one and holds it hostage until the very end. You simply won't be able to put the book down. The Sorrows is a very spooky read at night and will have even the most avid horror fan looking over his/her shoulder during the day. I greatly look forward to future works from Mr. Janz. He is an up-and-comer who will one day be compared to the well-known writers in the horror genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gripes you from the start! Fast paced, and thrilling! Keeps you in suspense until the very end! Gut wrenching thrills and honest heart tugging emotion! A MUST READ!!!