Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Review: Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant

What is your deepest, darkest fear? Your worst nightmare that wakes you with your own screaming in the middle of the pitch black night? How far would you go to expunge this fear? Would you visit a website and talk to a person calling themselves the Dream Healer about your worst fears if they promised to help you get rid of that fear? Well, you may want to be careful who you tell your secret nightmares to, because you just may end up like the victim’s in Shane Briant’s stunning debut novel, Worst Nightmares!

In the book a serial killer known only as the Dream Healer stalks his victims from his website, worstnightmares.net. People come to the site to talk to him about their deep-set fears in hope that he can help them, but after their fears are revealed the Dream Healer brings them to agonizing life as he kills each victim according to their own worst nightmare.

Meanwhile, award-winning author Dermot Nolan has hit a rut. Though he seemingly has it all – beautiful, loving wife, critical acclaim, fame and fortune – he has been suffering writer’s block. With his publishers breathing down his neck for his next big novel, Nolan quickly spirals into depression and desperation. So when he finds a crudely scrawled diary about the exploits of a serial killer named the Dream Healer in his mailbox, he considers publishing it under his own name. As he conducts some research into the locations of the murders in the book, it becomes apparent that the events detailed in the diary actually took place!

Still, Nolan is driven to desperation and decides to publish the diary…as a fictional piece under his own name. Someone else knows the intimate details of the diary, though, and soon Nolan is engaged in a dangerous cat and mouse game with the Dream Healer, who is very, very interested in making Nolan’s own worst nightmare come true.

Worst Nightmares is so horrifyingly engaging that it reads like a dream you can’t wake up from! From the first few sentences you get so caught up in the world of the Dream Healer and Nolan that you won’t want to put it down. Page after page it consistently delivers thrills, chills and tension – just when you think you’ve figured things out, author Shane Briant throws a surprising twist into the proceedings that makes you reevaluate all your previous assumptions!

I also enjoyed the ingenious ideas of killing people based on their deepest fears and how the impersonal internet was used by the faceless killer to find victims. It really gives you pause to question the great number of personal facts we tell complete strangers on the internet. Also, the death scenes are pretty shocking, especially when Nolan revisits the sites and finds evidence to support they actually happened. A girl gets her teeth viciously yanked out without any anesthesia, an agoraphobic (someone afraid of wide open spaces) is left in the vast expanse of the desert to die, someone is attacked by snakes, another by creepy crawlies like spiders and scorpions, a man’s wife is killed in front of him before he himself is butchered…the list goes on and on and each of the murders are pretty chilling, especially considering the detached, emotionless voice the killer uses when he talks about them.

Along with the shocking murders, author Briant creates a great amount of tension between the characters of the Dream Healer and Nolan. Theirs is an intriguing and surprising cat-and-mouse game and you’re never really sure where its heading. The novel has plenty of twists and turns, and as you get deeper in a clearer picture emerges of the intentions of the Dream Healer. The build-up leads to a nail-biting conclusion and a cliff-hanger ending that will have you pleading for more! The last 50 pages or so were ecstatic agony as I rushed to find out what would happen to all the characters! And when I reached the last sentence, I was convinced that a sequel must be written to satisfy my curiosity! Luckily, Mr. Briant is hard at work on the sequel and I know I cannot wait to read it.

Worst Nightmares is a roller-coaster ride that you’ll be bragging about surviving if you dare pick up a copy. Care to share your worst fear now?

Available from Amazon!

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