Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ARC REVIEW Jack-in-the-Box by William W. Johnstone

Twenty years ago William W. Johnstone released Jack-in-the-Box. Kensington has re-released them through Lyrical Underground. I have never read Johnstone before and unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading anymore. I think through years of watching horror movies and reading scary books I've become desensitized. I was unimpressed and it was cheesy and toward the end the violence was just gratuitous, and coming from me that says a lot one of my favorite zombie movies is Dead Alive (Which is said to be the bloodiest movie ever made by the amount of fake blood used). It started out okay, like something I would see in a Masters of Horror but it quickly turned into something B rated. It's a mix of the Exorcist, Satanic Nazis, a female Damien, and Puppetmaster (I know it came out after this book was published in 1989, but it was so much better). The jack-in-the-box is such a small part in the story it almost seems like the book should be named something else. The writing was very dry and predictable, parts of it were very interesting but those parts were outnumbered by the parts I had to push through. I talked myself into finishing the book and I wish I hadn't. The ending was disappointing, even the characters were disappointed with how it ended. I couldn't even bring myself to like the main characters.

Phillip is a lawyer married with two kids, it would be the ideal life but his daughter is a pathological liar, she acts vindictively and then lies about her action. Nora has her mother wrapped around her little finger and has her mom believing that Phillip hates Nora. On an impulse Phillip buys a horrific antique jack-in-the-box that Nora falls in love with, and the horror begins. Nora is an incarnation of evil, she has the power to manipulate people with her mind and turns everyone against her father. Phillip recruits the help of a priest Joe, a private eye Paul, a child psychiatrist Sheela, and his best friend Sam to help him defeat his satanic daughter. The jack-in-the-box has ties to Nazi Germany, it's previous owner was a Satanic worshiping Nazi who escaped at the end of the war and is living in New York now trying to have another Nazi uprising. With every death Nora causes she gains more and more power. Phillip's family has a huge secret and everything comes out the more powerful Nora becomes.

Overall, it was disappointing. I was hoping for more.        

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