Title: The Nightmare Man
Author: J.H. Markert
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
First published: January 10th 2023
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Finished reading: November 3rd 2022
Pages: 336

“I’m a writer. I get to be everything wrapped into one.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


WARNING: the unpopular opinion train is about to hit its mark yet again!!

There was just something about The Nightmare Man that caught my attention, and I couldn’t resist the invitation to read the ARC back in May. I don’t read the horror genre often enough, and I thought it would make for the perfect Halloween read. The premise sounds fantastic, and I always love a bookish element in my stories… Sadly, this story ended up falling rather flat for me instead. I’ll try to explain briefly why this was a miss for me below.

Before I start, I do have to say that I still love the premise of this book. There is a lot of potential in The Nightmare Man with the Blackwood mansion setting, the asylum on site and the mystery around the Atrium and its books. Like I said before, I do love a story with a bookish element, and I was excited to see how it was incorporated into the story here beyond the obvious author main character and his books. I also enjoyed the mythology references with the mares and other sleep-related myths.

Sadly, there were also multiple elements that didn’t work for me in The Nightmare Man. First of all, the names of the characters are beyond cliche and simply BAD. Examples? Having an author named Bookman, a cop named Blue and baddies including The Screamer, Bad Cop and The Boogeyman. I mean, would it have hurt to spend a little more time finding more original names?! I don’t know why, but the cliche names really irked me. The writing style in general didn’t sit well with me though; there was just something quite off and almost cheesy about it, although I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why it didn’t work for me personally.

I also thought that the plot itself was all over the place, and it almost felt like you were reading several books at the same time with the amount of different elements and storylines being shucked into one messy plot. As a result, none of the elements and storylines are properly developed, and I struggled considerably to find the motivation to keep reading. It’s strange with so much happening, but somehow I was rather bored by it all and there was too much information dumping going on as well. On top of this, there are too many flashbacks, which slowed down the pace even more and only distracted from the present events.

I was also surprised by the lack of properly scary scenes in The Nightmare Man. We almost never get to experience the creepy stuff first hand; instead we only learn about the events through dialogues after things happen or in the flashbacks. Like I said before, I can’t believe I was actually bored during most of what was supposed to be a chilling horror read! There was no real tension or suspense, and with so many different storylines going on at the same time the plot could get rather confusing instead. The ending was a disappointment for me as well, and felt too much like the author tried to wrap up all the chaos with a big, shiny and unbelievable bow.

All in all, unfortunately The Nightmare Man ended up being another dud for me… I seem to be in the minority though, so if you think this story is your cup of tea, don’t let this unpopular opinion train wreck stop you.

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