Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (14 Mar. 2019)
BLURB: Aside from a quaint amusement park, the small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.
The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy resort town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent and the depraved. They’ll settle old scores and act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into nightmare.
Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories.
His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal.
His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year.
Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children.
You can sign up for his newsletter (http://jonathanjanz.us12.list-manage….), and you can follow him on
A few hours before she witnessed the slaughter of her former classmates, Savannah was shoveling down her second bowl of spaghetti. “Maybe I’ll just stay here,” she said.
From the other side of the kitchen, Barb Callahan eyed her without sympathy. “You always eat this much when you’re nervous?”
“I hate wearing lipstick anyway. This’ll motivate me to wipe it off before I go.”
“That was supposed to be a half-hour ago.”
Savannah eyed Barb, who stood across the sleek quartz island from her nursing a glass of Riesling. The vision was slightly incongruous. In her mid- fifties, her brown hair showing some gray, Barb was six-foot-two and broad all over. If she hadn’t known the woman better, Savannah would’ve pegged her for a beer drinker. Or maybe tequila.
“Jake will be fine,” Barb said.
Savannah dropped her fork with a clatter and crossed her arms. “I didn’t say anything about Jake.”
“I’m just taking away the excuse before it occurs to you.”
Savannah arched an eyebrow. “Do you always have to be so ruthless?”
“I’m babysitting, aren’t I?”
“Yeah, but that’s because you enjoy it.”
Barb sipped her wine but didn’t otherwise answer.
Savannah glanced toward the living room, where Jake was playing with
Barb’s considerable collection of Lincoln Logs.
Barb said, “You’ve already said goodbye to him. Twice.”
Savannah spread her arms. “Maybe I want to again. Is there something wrong with that?”
“When you’re being chickenshit, yes.”
“You told Joyce you’d be there tonight, right?”
Savannah looked away, shrugged. “Maybe.”
“And she hardly knows anybody else at this shindig.”
“She knows Short Pump a little.”
“That’s one of the worst goddamned nicknames I’ve ever heard.”
“It’s what we’ve called him since high school.”
“Most people are idiots in high school.”
Savannah fished her compact out of her purse, studied her reflection and frowned. “Some don’t get much smarter afterward.”
“Can’t argue with that.”
Savannah made a face, shook her head. “But that’s the problem. It’ll be just like high school.” She reached out, fiddled with the strap of her purse, but made no move to pick it up. “The reunion’s next week. I don’t see why we have to hang out the week before too. Isn’t once painful enough?”
“Why don’t you quit bullshitting and admit you’re afraid of seeing Mike again?”
Savannah compressed her lips. “That’s not what I need.”
And it wasn’t. Not remotely.
Yes, she and Mike had been a thing back in high school, and yes, she’d assumed they’d get married after graduation. But what irked her– no, what wounded her deeply – was how wrapped up Mike was with everything that had gone wrong in her life. The disappointment at being abandoned by him after high school. The muddled college years. The return to Lakeview. Then the pregnancy and her parents’ nightmarish ostracizing of her and Jake, like they were in seventeenth century New England or something.
Now here she was, ten years out of high school, working a thankless job, with only three real friends in the world – Joyce, Barb, and Short Pump – though Short Pump hardly counted since he wanted in her pants.
Barb was staring at her.
“What?” Savannah asked. “More criticism?”
Barb’s eyes narrowed. “This isn’t just about Mike, is it?”
Savannah heaved a shuddering sigh, marched over to the wine bottle, and poured herself a glass. She downed a third of it in a swallow.
“Easy on that stuff,” Barb said.
“I’m not going to wrap my car around a telephone pole. I just need to calm my nerves.”
“What do you have to be nervous about?”
“Not being a good role model for Jake.”
Savannah rolled her eyes. “It’s just…I should be doing more with my life. I’m tired of working for a misogynistic lawyer who thinks I’m too stupid to alphabetize files.”
Savannah saluted her with a middle finger.
“So find another job,” Barb said.
“Where?” Savannah gestured toward town. “At McDonald’s? The Super-Wal-mart?”
“You’ve got a degree.”
“In graphic design,” Savannah snapped. “How many graphic design jobs are there in Lakeview?”
“I wouldn’t think very many.”
Instead of answering, Savannah took another sip of wine.
Barb said, “Your folks have long since moved away, and they were assholes to begin with. You’ve only got a few friends. What’s keeping you here?”
Savannah crossed her arms, stared at the older woman. “What do you want me to say? Fear? Cowardice? Being a slave to routine?”
“Can I choose all of the above?”
“This isn’t helping.”
“Who says I’m trying to help?”
“Barb, you don’t understand—”
“I understand your life didn’t turn out like you wanted it to. You hitched your wagon to the wrong horse.”
“That’s a lousy way to put it.”
“You’re only what, twenty-eight? Your boy’s young. He hasn’t even started kindergarten yet. Why not move now?”
Savannah’s mouth worked mutely for a moment. She blew a lock of blond hair out of her eyes. “Okay, where?”
“Somewhere with more opportunity than Lakeview.”
“And where is that?”
“Throw a dart at the map.”
Savannah slouched on the island, exhaled wearily. “I’m late.”
“Then get your ass in gear. Poor Joyce is probably having to fend off advances from that Weiner guy.”
Savannah chuckled. “His name’s Weezer. And he’s not that bad.”
“Unctuous little creep is what he is.”
Savannah left the half-empty wine glass on the counter and grabbed her purse. At the doorway she looked back over her shoulder. “You ever thought of being a trifle more sympathetic?”
“You mean enable you to wallow in self-pity? Nope. Not in my nature.”
Savannah strode over and crouched beside Jake. He’d erected a knee- high tower of Lincoln Logs, the structure impressive but alarmingly bowed in the middle. He had the blue plastic roof poised over the tower, his tongue poking out the corner of his mouth in concentration.
Savannah knew where this was going.
“Jakers?” she said. “Can Mommy put the roof on for you?”
“I can do it,” Jake said, his eyes never wavering from his task.
He dropped the roof from a distance of perhaps three inches, but the impact was forceful enough to collapse the tower to ruins. Jake made a fist, punched his leg. His lower lip quivered.
“It’s okay,” she said, removing the roof from the rubble. “Can Mommy help you rebuild your tower?”
“It’s a haunted house,” Jake said. “The one at Beach Land.”
“Ah,” she said, clearing the foundation and beginning the job of restacking the logs. “Is it a scary one?”
He nodded. “The scariest place in the world.” He joined her in rebuilding the structure. After they’d worked for a minute or two, he said, “Mommy?”
She kissed his forehead and continued to stack the logs. The bonfire could wait a little while longer.