Published by Blood Bound Books
Review by Billy Lyons
I’ve always found hotels to be creepy as hell. Whenever I walk down an empty hotel corridor, I become very anxious when it’s time to make that 90 degree turn around a blind corner, because I expect to see the two little girls from The Shining standing at the other end, holding hands and asking me if I want to play with them. Forever and ever. And even when I do manage to make it safely into my room, it’s almost impossible to get comfortable. I can’t stop asking myself whether some poor bastard killed himself in the bathroom where I just brushed my teeth, or if someone was once found dead in the very same bed I’m supposed to sleep in.
Yet no matter how disturbing I find hotels to be, I don’t think my imagination has ever come up with any scenario as terrifying as those found in John McNee’s excellent novel, Prince of Nightmares.
Prince of Nightmares is the story of Victor Teversham, an elderly Australian business tycoon who is grieving the unexpected suicide of his wife Josephine. Before the late Mrs. Teversham killed herself, she secured a reservation at The Ballador Country House Hotel, a charming inn hidden away deep inside the Scottish Highlands.
The Ballador House enjoys worldwide fame, not for its scenic locale, excellent food, or exemplary staff, but for its bizarre guarantee that guests who stay in certain rooms will experience the most lucid, terrifying nightmares imaginable. Teversham finds it unfathomable that his wife would reserve one of these Nightmare Rooms, so he travels to Scotland to try and get some answers. As his stay unfolds, Teversham is swept into a world of strange, malevolent forces that threaten him in a way no nightmare ever could.
The high point of Prince of Nightmares is McNee’s superior writing. He skillfully weaves a world in which even the most unexpected, unimaginable horrors are believable. The gorier aspects of the story (and there are more than a few) are described in a manner that blend seamlessly with the writing as a whole. I often find myself not finishing a particularly bloody novel, not because I’m opposed to blood and guts, but because so many writers are unable to present the gore in a way that doesn’t interfere with the plot as a whole. In this respect McNee’s writing is very reminiscent of the best of Clive Barker, while standing firmly on its own merits in every respect.
Fans of supernatural horror and splatterpunk alike should move Prince of Nightmares all the way to the top of their must-read list. It is a wonderfully-crafted novel that adds to John McNee’s well-deserved reputation as a master of the bloody and bizarre.
You can follow John McNee on Twitter at @THEJohnMcNee