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The Dark Game

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  535 ratings  ·  257 reviews
"In his latest pulp horror gem, Janz channels early Stephen King to twist the story of a secluded writers’ retreat into something unique and thought-provoking." - Booklist

Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talen
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 11th 2019 by Flame Tree Press
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Popular Answered Questions
Jonathan Janz Hi, India! Thanks for the question.

There are definitely some connections to The Deer Hunter, primarily in how the characters are forced to confront t…more
Hi, India! Thanks for the question.

There are definitely some connections to The Deer Hunter, primarily in how the characters are forced to confront their demons and pushed to their extremes. There's also the notion of whether or not someone is beyond saving and what a person can realistically do for another to bring about that person's redemption. The novel also examines how our pasts affect us and how difficult they can be to overcome.

I hope you give it a shot! :-)(less)
Jonathan Janz Hey, Kristen! So sorry for the delay here. The book is definitely not appropriate for younger teens. I feel like older teens could handle it, but that…moreHey, Kristen! So sorry for the delay here. The book is definitely not appropriate for younger teens. I feel like older teens could handle it, but that’s just an opinion. I’d say it’s about as appropriate or inappropriate as Stephen King’s IT. Hopefully, that helps a little.

Thanks for your question, and have an awesome day!

JJ(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  535 ratings  ·  257 reviews


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megs_bookrack
**3.5-stars**

This is the story...
...of 10 writers...
...picked to live in a mansion...
...and compete against one another...
...for the ultimate prize.

Find out what happens...
...when people stop being polite...
...and start getting KILLED .



Ten aspiring authors are selected to attend a summer-long writing retreat at a private estate property.

Their host, Roderick Wells, a renowned author himself, is eccentric and creepy AF. He also happens to be cruel and quite possibly insane.



We meet the competit
...more
Chelsea Humphrey
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
"#1 Internationally Bestselling Author
MR. RODERICK WELLS
Requests the honor of your presence at his estate on May 26th for a six-week writing retreat. You and nine others have been selected for the opportunity of a lifetime. One of you will become the next Legendary Author.
Please find enclosed:
One airline ticket
A contract* outlining Mr. Wells's expectations
*Contract must be returned by mail no later than May 1st. Any mention of the retreat will automatically void the contract. Absolute secrecy
...more
Debra
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
2.5 stars

Ten Writers are invited to a summer long retreat at the home of one of the most celebrated and reclusive writers, Roderick Wells. He promises to teach them any things while they are there about writing and reaching their full potential. One of them will even win three million dollars, a publishing contract and Well's patronage! Who wouldn't want that?

Soon it becomes clear that things are not quite right at the retreat. Soon each one is confronted with their past and their deeds, actions
...more
Karl
With his new book “The Dark Game” Jonathan Janz its author, has created an interesting set-up. What the story presents is Roderick Wells, the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. hosting a summer-long writing retreat where ten writers have been selected to attend, for the chance of winning three million dollars, and an assurance of a big-time publishing contract.

The contestants are:

Lucy Still
Tommy Marston
Marek Sokolow
Evan Landon
Anna Holloway
Elaine Kovalchyk
Sherilyn Jackson
Rick For
...more
Mort
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm thinking about a 4.5 Star review here - just can't push myself to give five.

Janz is a very talented horror writer - if you've read some reviews, you will know that he has impressed some serious horror fans. His writing is good and stable, and his stories flow rather well. If it wasn't for me seeing the ending a bit too soon - don't know how many people will feel this way - I might have given it a five.

So, this story is almost like FLATLINERS meeting IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.
We all have skelet
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Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
Original review posted at Cemetery Dance April 15th, 2019

2019 is the year of Jonathan Janz. There. I said it. Flame Tree Press performed the remarkable act of acquiring his previously released titles and then doling them out to us on a pretty aggressive schedule, which is an impressive gesture all on its own…but wait! There’s more. Flame Tree is also releasing new titles from Janz.

Like I said, this is the year of Jonathan Janz and an incredibly exciting time to be a fan. If you haven’t had the p
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Luvtoread
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark, horror
A Very Tantalizing Horror Novel.

The story evolves around ten authors who are invited to participate in a six week-long writing competition which is a very hush, hush program that they will have to sign a contract of complete secrecy (no cellphones, no computers or tablets, nor telling any family or friends what they are doing) or they will be eliminated immediately and sent back home. The winner of this elite competition will be awarded a several year contract with the top publishers and guarant
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Bark
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I had a little struggle with this book because the font on my ARC was so teeny tiny I could only read the story in 20 minute increments before my eyes started to cry and reading became an impossibility. After trying to read it this way for over two weeks I finally gave up and requested an eArc via Netgalley. Thank you Netgalley and Flame Tree Press for the arc’s! The author has confirmed that final copies will have an easier to read font so your eyeballs need not worry.



This
...more
Lisa
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
My thanks to Flame Tree Press and Netgalley.
It's just one of those things I suppose. A book description sometimes sounds way more exciting than the actual book. This was the case with me. I've only read 4 or 5 books by Mr. Janz, and I plan on reading more. But, this book in particular was almost the same book as another I've read by this author. Which one? Heck if I know! 😬 But, it was on an island, and shit was weird. Here? Yep, maybe not an island, but definitely lost, and definitely strange!
...more
Toni | Dark Reads
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-s, netgalley
4.5 Stars!

Thank you to Jonathan Janz, Flame Tree Press and NetGlley for the ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

This was my first Jonathan Janz read, I had heard lots of good things so was super excited to get started on this.

The premise of a group of authors unknowingly being entered into a twisted game against each other, while being confronted by demons from their pasts had me hooked and I wasn’t disappointed!

The story starts quite briskly, with the authors arriving at the retr
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Ginger
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you to the Horror Aficionados group and guest author Jonathan Janz for doing the group read for The Dark Game! I really enjoyed being a part of this!

This is the first book that I’ve read by Janz and I really enjoyed it. His writing is very descriptive, grim and shocking at times. I love this type of writing in horror! He does not skip on the horror or details when gruesome deaths occur.

The Dark Game starts off with 10 writers getting an invitation to a writing retreat with
...more
Gary
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Jonathan Janz knows how to tell a story. His strength is driving a plot forward and keeping me wondering what will happen next. Ultimately, it's what brings me back to his books. That is definitely the strength of this novel. The setting is very And Then There Were None like. There are guests on an island vying for a prize and since this book is in the horror genre, the reader has a fairly decent idea of what will happen to at least some of them. The only thing in question is the how and why, an ...more
Josh
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A number of books have explored the use of writers and their fictional characters coming to life to wreak havoc on their creators, but none have been so diverse and plentiful in number as those which appear in The Dark Game.

The premise of this horror is a genre staple; a bunch of people of varying socio-economical standing are invited to a house off the grid to participate in a contest which will reward the victor handsomely. If they can survive the secluded retreat that is.

The contest revolves
...more
Kimberly
4.5 stars.

THE DARK GAME, by Jonathan Janz, is a novel that takes ten struggling writers--each aspiring to be the next to land a bestseller--on what they think is their chance of a lifetime. Each of them will meet and stay for a time with the extraordinarily successful, yet eccentric, Roderic Wells. The last time Wells extended an invitation to a group of authors, one of them became successful beyond her wildest dreams!

The catch? Only one of them can win the prize money and contract.

"MR. RODER
...more
Emma
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Ok so this is pretty silly, but it’s the kind of inventively murderous fun that passes the time splendidly and has an ending which leaves you with a wide, gleeful smile.

But was it scary??

Well, It had enough of a spook factor to make me check the shadows when taking the bins out so... make of that what you will.


ARC via Netgalley

NZLisaM
Where vivid imagination breathes life into manuscripts, unleashing the stuff of nightmares!

Fans of Stephen King, Scott Thomas' Kill Creek, and Stephen Laws, Daemonic, will devour The Dark Game.

Ten authors are invited to the isolated home of best-selling, reclusive writer, Roderick Wells for a six week writing retreat. Absolute discretion is required, with those who choose to attend, contractually obligated not to mention the retreat to a soul. The prize: two million dollars and a publishing deal
...more
Mindi
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#1 Internationally Bestselling Author
Mr. Rodrerick Wells
Requests the honor of your presence at his estate on
May 26th for a six-week writing course

From the multitude of applicants, you and nine others have
been selected for the opportunity of a lifetime.
One of you will become
the next Legendary Author

The premise of this novel had me immediately excited and eager to read it. Ten writers are selected by bestselling author Roderick Wells to spend the summer at a writing retreat in his isolated estate.
...more
Emily
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Game was a fun read! I really liked the setup of this book, and my attention will always be caught with a synopsis like this. I think that this book is perfect for fans of books like The Carrow Haunt, Kill Creek, Hell House, etc.

I felt like there were a few too many characters, and it was difficult to connect with anyone. It was impossible to keep anyone straight, and it took people much longer to die than I expected since there were so many characters. I think a character list at the
...more
Jon Recluse
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, netgalley, mystery
10 aspiring writers are invited to a writing retreat at the remote mansion of reclusive author and literary giant Roderick Wells, an invitation that will transform one of them into a bestselling author in their own right.
But this bargain turns out to be more Faustian than benevolent......and failing to impress the great Roderick Wells carries a price far darker than any of them can imagine.

Janz spins a nasty little tale of psychological and supernatural horror, with touches of BURNT OFFERINGS th
...more
Glenn Rolfe
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly Janz's best work yet. His skills continue to sharpen, and it really feels like he's comfortable as hell behind that keyboard now. There's a piece about fearlessness in this book, and I think it's safe to say Janz is feeling just that-fearless. This was by far my favorite cast of characters in any of his books, and the story read like something straight out of the Leisure Books Horror Club heyday!
THE DARK GAME is a horror gem.

destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Wells’ mansion looked like every ghost story he’d ever read. As they drew closer, Rick couldn’t shake the feeling he was about to become part of one.

I’ve read and reviewed many of Jonathan Janz’s releases and re-releases over the last several months, and have loved all of them, but none have won me over quite as much as my first read of his, The Siren and the Specter—that is, until finishing this newest novel of Jonathan’s, The Dark Game.

I know what haunts you, Wells gloated. I can summon
...more
Michael Hicks
My review of THE DARK GAME can be found at High Fever Books.

I have to admit up front that I have a certain fondness for horror books about authors whose literary creations come alive. One of my favorites, of course, is Stephen King’s The Dark Half, and I’m pretty sure Dean Koontz wrote something along these lines as well, but I’ll be damned if I can recall the title (or maybe I’m just getting hit with a serious case of Mandela Effect). The Dark Game, a brand-new release unleashed amidst Flame Tr
...more
Katie Gallagher
Read this review and others on my blog!
Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. The Dark Game debuts April 11th.

This may have been a poor choice for a first book to read by Jonathan Janz. I didn’t know much about Janz, though the name vaguely rang a bell. (More on that later.) The premise is a bunch of writers competing for mentorship and future literary prestige at a spooky retreat. Normally I’m not huge on sto
...more
Steve Stred
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
** Edited as Review is now live on Kendall Reviews! **

You want to know a sad reality? Like, a reality we’re living in that will possibly make you cry once you read it? OK – maybe grab some tissues. Got ‘em? OK – here we go. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

THE DARK GAME IS ONLY MY SECOND JANZ READ EVER!!!

I know right! This is the reality of 2019 and you know frankly I’ll just go sit quietly in the corner and wait for you all to settle down. (Wow eight DM’s already yelling at me about that. You guys
...more
Chris
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been a huge fan of his work since THE SORROWS from now defunct Samhain Publishing several years ago, Jonathan Janz has been steadily releasing his back list with Flame Tree Publishing over the past year. And if his new horror release THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER from last year wasn't a big enough hit, which it was, with his forthcoming April release, THE DARK GAME, is like Janz's telling us, "Hold my beer!"

The mysterious and enigmatic bestselling novelist Roderick Wells holds his notorious "
...more
Jamie Stewart
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know you’re reading a great story when 50 pages in you know you will be reading this again. The premise of The Dark Game alone deserves a 3 star rating, ten writers competing for a publishing contract at a writers retreat run by international best selling writer. Yet, what elates this novel to 5 star is Jonathan Janz awe inspiring storytelling ability.

The first thing that struck me about The Dark Game is how much story exists in its 300 plus pages. Every character is well defined, compellin
...more
Bill
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Jonathan Janz for a long time. He’s is good and I really dig his work.

There is a lot going on with this one though and it was a bit difficult to keep it all straight. I think it could have used a wee bit of a trim here and there to keep it a little leaner and meaner. That being said, it definitely didn’t lack for crazy sh*t going on. That’s for sure.

$3,000,000 up for grabs.

Let the games begin.

*I received an advance review copy of this release from NetGalley in exchange f
...more
Don Gillette
Very interesting supernatural thriller that was just a bit reminiscent of Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Matheson's Hell House and Scott Thomas' Kill Creek - but take my word for it; people thrown together in a haunted house is where the similarity ends. Jonathan Janz took that premise and jetted off in an entirely different direction that was very satisfying, if a bit confusing.
The sheer number of characters made it somewhat difficult to keep up with, but the masterful way he picked them
...more
andrea caro
Aug 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gratuitously oversexualized in a way that makes me want to take a shower. Rape/sexual assault of someone with an intellectual disability. Domestic abuse, too. Slut-shaming. Fuck loads of misogyny and toxic masculinity. Then I DNFed. 1-starring this because honestly, it makes me never want to read anything written by a man ever again. I love horror, but rape as a horror plot device is lazy, bad writing.
Julie Zantopoulos
At a certain point, I had to stop marking problematic and content warning markers in this book....there were just TOO many. Also, there was a sentence with, and I shit you not, fourteen (yes 14) comas in it that spanned almost an entire paragraph.

This had potential. I read it to the end hoping for some epic payoff, for some reason for all the gross gratuitous violence against women and misogyny, but nope. A straight-up hot mess that I wish I could forget.

CW: rape, domestic abuse, forced aborti
...more
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Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Josh Malerman, Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal. His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, h ...more

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