Since childhood, Maury Bennett has had the ability to pull nightmares out of a dreamer’s mind and into the real world, in corporeal form. Together with businessman Gage, he opens Lucidity, a museum dedicated to displaying these dreams for the public to view. However, their biggest drawcard, Mr. Freakshow, the nightmare of a traumatised young boy, proves to be a dangerous exhibit…
With The Nightmare Within, Glen Krish shows the world what good indie publishing is all about, offering a tightly written horror novel that holds its own against the works of big name authors such as King, Koontz and Herbert. Fast-paced from beginning to end, it skilfully juggles the stories of multiple characters whose lives eventually intertwine, and provides genuine moments of violence, repulsion and sadness. It is the sign of a well-characterised horror book when the reader is dismayed by the death of a member of the ensemble cast, and I experienced such an emotion twice while buried in The Nightmare Within‘s e-pages.
While the novel is written using the perspectives of many characters, those that dominate the book are Maury, Kevin and, to a lesser extent, Gage. The latter is a highly sympathetic character. Devoted to his comatose daughter, it would be difficult not to hope that he will receive the substitute that he desires. The other two, however, are particularly well-drawn and developed.
When he chose to focus on a young boy as one of his major characters, Krish took the risk that he might alienate readers by either rendering Kevin as being unrealistically mature for his age or too young to be interesting. Instead, however, he capably shows the movement of Kevin from a naïve innocent to a battle-hardened survivor due to the trauma he experiences. Kevin’s motivations are appropriate and his actions in keeping with those of a boy of his age, but the forced coming-of-age that is engendered by the novel’s events enables him to remain of interest to Krish’s adult audience.
Maury, on the other hand, is something of an antihero. While sympathetic, he is not likeable. The reader is quickly introduced to his bad deeds, and he is presented as a man who has difficulty with many human interactions. I didn’t much care for Maury as a person, but very much enjoyed him as a character. Life is rarely about the extremes of good and bad, or innocent and guilty, and it’s always good when novels follow suit.
The Nightmare Within is a strong addition to the horror genre, with a good mix of character development, action and destruction. In a way, it’s a pity that it is currently only available as an e-book. It would fit very nicely into my horror bookshelf – perhaps somewhere near the earlier writings of Dean Koontz.
Warning: There are brief references to animal cruelty in the beginning of the book.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)