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{Book Review} The Nightrunners by Joe R. Lansdale

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  • Pages: 243
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Published: March 15, 1989

I’ve read a couple of Joe R. Lansdale’s books. The Nightrunners is probably the scariest story he’s ever written. Hell, it’s probably the darkest story he’s ever written, and by darkest, I mean the most brutally vicious. It touches on some difficult subjects. Some readers may get triggered. With that being said, I liked this creepy story. For me, it starts with characters. It’s not just about the main characters in Lansdale’s stories, it’s about the entire ensemble. Each character is dynamic, but I feel like they were a bit thin. All of the characters are going through different things. I dig the way Lansdale chose to go about their backstories. It never slowed the story down.    

Lansdale’s prose is something to marvel. His writing style is probably the best of what’s around, it’s truly sublime. Young writers and writers just starting out could learn a thing or two from Lansdale’s prose. There’s a certain cadence to his writing. His sentences are rhythmically beautiful and poetic. Whilst reading this book, I couldn’t help but sit back and take it all in. The Nightrunners reads like a fever dream, it’s fast-paced and ruthless. But the dialogue felt a bit dated. I didn’t connect with it, especially with the gang members.

It’s hard to believe that Joe R. Lansdale was still honing his craft when he wrote this book. When you put this one next to most of his other works, The Nightrunners falls a bit short. The story was straight forward and felt a bit bare. There’s no twist or turns along the way. But it did scare the hell out of me. The demonic part of the story is one of the creepiest experiences I’ve had while reading horror. It thoroughly unnerved me to my core.

The ending was the best part. When the story hits the boiling point, the blood pours from the pages. Fast cars and guns, what’s not to like? One of the best high speed chase scenes I’ve ever read. The plot reads quick; it never skips a beat. The ending is predictable, yet exhilarating. It’s vicious and primal. It’s certainly a great way to spend a few hours. It reads with a quickness, due in large part to Lansdale’s prose. I’ve never read anything quite like it. Dig it. 

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Becky and Montgomery Jones are struggling to heal their relationship in the aftermath of a terrifying rape. Haunted by waking nightmares, Becky is convinced that her visions of death are actual premonitions, and that her attacker—who hanged himself in prison—will be coming for her. Her husband thinks it more likely that she’s suffering post-traumatic hallucinations.

In fact, the gang responsible for Becky’s assault has made a pact with The God of The Razor, a malevolent entity that demands as much blood, cutting and terror as they can feed it. Its first order of business is to have them finish what was started with Becky Jones. To make sure that they do it properly, Becky’s dead rapist has decided to hijack a body and come along for the ride.

Dean R. Koontz described The Nightrunners as having a raw power that “grabs you and carries you right along,” and there speaks a man who knows terrifying. A full-tilt, no-holds-barred tale of death, destruction, and moral corruption, The Nightrunners isn’t for the faint-hearted. Don’t blame Lansdale if you find your dreams haunted as well.

Categories: Uncategorized

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