Carter was only twelve when he witnessed the disaster that killed more than a hundred people at Starland Amusement Park. Five years later, Carter’s hometown is no longer a busy Florida panhandle resort, but a slowly dying town full of empty motels and attractions rusting behind chains and padlocks.
Now something evil stirs in the ruins of the old amusement park...something with an alluring siren song drawing visitors into the dark mysteries of the forbidden world behind the gate. Something with an appetite for restless, yearning souls.
Carter reluctantly returns to the old park in the company of a new girl in town, who is obsessed with urban decay and pop-culture ruins, and discovers the evil at work. To stop it, and protect the children of the town, Carter will have to face his oldest and deepest fears.Paperback, 370 pages
Four Stars: A creeptastic book that will make you sure you never feel the same about amusement parks again.
It is a balmy summer night. Thirteen year old Carter is perusing the town, enjoying those last, long summer nights of freedom before school starts. He is hoping to catch sight of the girl he is secretly crushing on. When Carter sees Trish entering the Starlight Amusement Park, he doesn't hesitate, he buys a ticket and heads in. Carter loves the old amusement park. He pauses to drink in the sights and sounds. He breathes deeply and catches a whiff of salty ocean air swirling through the park, thick with the scents of cotton candy, fried food and buttery popcorn. The park is alive with lights, noise and magic. Little does Carter know that in a few minutes, this will happy place will become a scene of horror. Will Carter ever escape the Inferno Park?
What I Liked:
- Fair warning, this book isn't for the faint of heart. It is a dark, thrilling, gory, spooky story that will haunt you long after you have finished. I was thoroughly entertained, and I couldn't help but to draw comparisons to one of my all time favorite authors, Stephen King, while reading Inferno Park. This book totally has a King vibe with its creepy setting and terrifying villain. I assure you, once you finish this one, you will think twice before visiting an amusement park. Bryan does to amusement parks what King did to clowns. If you are a horror fan, don't miss this one.
- I loved the amusement park setting. Bryan painstakingly crafts two versions of the amusement park. The bright, happy, before park, vivid and alive, although it is showing the signs of wear, and then in contrast, the ruined, haunted park. I loved the attention to detail, and I especially appreciated how Bryan managed to engage all of my senses. He skillfully describes the sights, sounds, smells and thrills of an amusement park before turning into something extraordinarily creepy. It was awesome. Even though I am a huge fan of amusement parks, I will be thinking twice the next time I visit one, and you can sure as heck bet that I will NEVER visit one after hours.
- I liked how the book focused on the history of the small town. The reader learns how the park was born, saw it in its glory days, and then witnessed the gradual decline. Once the park slides into ruin, the fall out on the town is a rapid downward spiral. I enjoyed how carefully Mr. Bryan created this town and how he laid out its history. The demise of the town helped to intensify the eerie atmosphere.
- Carter is a likable hero. He is intelligent, unassuming and unafraid of hard work. Long before the accident in the park, Carter was afraid of the giant Devil Roller Coaster. Since the destruction, Carter has been haunted by nightmares. The park has affected Carter on so many levels, it haunts him and it destroyed his life as he knew it. When kids start to go missing, Carter is talked into visiting the park by a new girl in town. Even though he is frightened of the park, he agrees. Before long, Carter is drawn into a horrifying struggle. When the final stakes are on the table, Carter makes a stunning, altruistic choice. I loved his bravery and commitment.
- Victoria, Carter's partner in crime, is the perfect compliment. She is inquisitive to the point where it gets her in trouble, she is determined and stubborn and willing to try and make a difference. I loved that she didn't back down either once the horrible truth was revealed.
- Believe it or not, I liked that there wasn't a fully developed romance in this one. When the new girl, Victoria, comes to town and befriends Carter, I thought a relationship was in the works. Surprisingly, the two remain friends. I thought it was great that the book didn't delve into a romance, because somehow a fledgling romance in the face of evil seemed out of place.
- This one is non stop action and thrills. The first chapter alone will suck you in with the terrifying accident. There is suspense, mystery and plenty of chills to keep you entertained throughout.
- The climax is riveting. I wish I could go into details, but I won't. I will just say this: prepare for a hellish roller coaster ride! It is epic! Then once the adrenaline settles down, the book ends nicely and neatly with a spot of hope. No cliffhangers or unanswered questions. This is a stand alone!
And The Not So Much:
- As I mentioned, this book is not for the squeamish, fraidy cats. Just as Mr. Bryan spared no details creating the park and its atmosphere, he does the same with the fright and the gore. Some of the scenes are truly terrifying. I will say this, I didn't find the gore over the top or overly gristly, but it was certainly enough to scare me.
- I wished that there was more on the whole mom angle. I kept expecting something to develop on that end of the story, but it didn't. No big deal, but I was hoping that she would make another appearance.
- Don't read this before bed time or right before you go to an amusement park. You have been warned.
Inferno Park is a must read book for all fans of paranormal horror. With exceptional characters, suspense and outstanding world building, fans will be flocking for more. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. The haunted, decayed amusement park is the stuff of nightmares, and I suspect that after reading this one, you will be a bit hesitant the next time you visit an amusement park. I know I am, especially since the day after I read this book, the Colossus roller coaster at Magic Mountain caught on fire! https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/08/magic-mountain-fire_n_5788028.html. If you are on the hunt for a terrifying, creeptastic book for the Fall season, this one is not to be missed. Mr. Bryan has rivaled Stephen King with this tale, and I don't say that lightly. Just get it.
"A ride is much more interesting when it includes the risk of serious injury or death, don't you agree?"
"That's where the fear lives, down inside you, not inside whatever it is that's scaring you."
"They say the devil resides within each person, watching and whispering."
A huge thanks to J.L. Bryan for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review and for haunting my sleep! All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Have I captured your attention yet with this review? No? Yes? How about a giveaway? J.L. Bryan is generously allowing me to offer a chance to win an ebook copy of Inferno Park to one lucky winner. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Be sure to stop by in October for the third appearance of J.L. Bryan during Something Wicked Strikes!a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the author:
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories. He is the author of The Paranormals series (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, Alexander Death, Jenny Plague Bringer) and other books. Be sure to check out his latest time travel dystopian: Nomad. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, and some dogs and cats. You can find J.L. Bryan on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.