Saturday, 5 March 2011

Review: Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis

'Some books should be banned or destroyed.
This is the story of one of them...'


A brilliant supernatural thriller with a modern twist, and a triumphant return from one of Britain's best-loved writers.

At the end of a track, on the outskirts of an ordinary coastal town, lies a dilapidated house. 

Once, a group of amateur ghost hunters spent the night there. Two of them don't like to speak about the experience. The third can't speak about it. He went into the basement, you see, and afterwards he screamed so hard and so long he tore his vocal cords.

Now, a group of teenagers have decided to hang out in the old haunted house. 

Dismissing the fears of the others, their leader Jezza goes down into the basement and comes back up with a children's book, full of strange and colourful tales of a playing-card world, a fairytale world, full of Jacks, Queens and Kings, unicorns and wolves. 

But the book is no fairytale. 

Written by Austerly Fellows, a mysterious turn-of-the-century occultist, it just might be the gateway to something terrifying and awfully final.

As the children and teenagers of the town are swept up by its terrible power, swept into its seductive world, something has begun that could usher in hell on earth. 

Soon, the only people standing in its way are a young boy with a sci-fi obsession, and his dad -- an unassuming maths teacher called Martin!

Dancing Jax ~ a tall tales & short stories review

It's hard to write a review and resist the urge to discuss certain moments in the book or specific plotlines that I particularly enjoyed so I shall try and work around what has been detailed in the synopsis because if there's one thing I hate it's spoilers!  That's the fun of reading a book or watching a film - not knowing how it's going to end - and I certainly couldn't decide how this plot was going to unravel.  And I loved that!  It's a rare thing, I find, to genuinely be trying to work out what might happen next and to be rooting for someone only for the plot to take a sudden twist and all your preconceptions shattered.

Initially, the set-up of a spooky, haunted house has all the familiar elements of a ghostly horror story but it quickly sets off in another direction and that's when I really felt myself sitting up, and desperately turning the page wanting to know what happens next. 

There is a genuine sense of creeping dread as the power of the book is revealed and the story plays out.  It reminds me of some of the best Japanese horror - atmospheric, dark and a real sense of uncertainty and fear about what will happen next made all the more creepy because it exists slap, bang in the middle of our modern world.  Who knew Felixstowe could become such a frightening place to live!

If I had any minor quibble I felt there were moments of what seemed like authorial intrusion, mini diatribes on the morality of modern life that although I often agreed with I felt could have been handled with a little more subtlety.  But they also add another dimension to the story because for all the evil the Ismus is bringing into the world perhaps it's a world that's already on the brink of collapse and therefore its people perhaps even willing and open to escaping from their everyday lives.

For anyone who enjoys an original, spooky, unusual, psychological supernatural horror fantasy with a very modern twist, well, this is the book for you.  I highly-recommend it for readers of about 11+ who relish reading something a little different.


Girl Friday said...

Thanks for this review, I thought this sounded fascinating, downloaded the Kindle sample and LOVED it - will be adding to my TBR pile asap!

Tracy said...

I'm sure you'll enjoy it Girl Friday.
Why, oh why, do TBR piles get bigger rather than smaller?! ;)

Beth Kemp said...

It's all very well bemoaning the growth of the TBR pile, but here you are adding to mine with your reviews...

Tracy said...

LOL Beth! :D
I'll try to keep adding to yours as I make my way through mine...

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Popular Posts

The Bookseller