19 April 2019

Review || Reaper by Jonathan Pongratz

Gregory and his little sister Imogen love spending Halloween with their parents. But this year is different. If he proves he can take care of Imogen all by himself, he’ll finally have the allowance he’s dreamed of. 

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement and Imogen was taken from him by the monster. 

Now everyone in town is blaming him for her disappearance, but no one is listening to his story. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? And most of all, can he find his sister before it’s too late, or will he bury his memories of her along with his parents?





 




We all know the adage about not judging a book by its cover, but let's all just take a deep breath and admit that we don't give a hoot about the adage and judge away. You with me? 

I'm a sucker for a cover that tells a story and Reaper does that well. It's a fantastic example of using a cover that perfectly renders the story into art.  While simplistic, that door on the cover is brooding and ominous. When I saw it, I had to know what was on the other side. Some doors, however, should never be opened, and Reaper throws them wide.

That's where our story begins, with Gregory and his little sister Imogene, left by themselves on Halloween. When a strange door appears in the usually locked basement and is taken by the monster from within, Gregory is left to discover the truth for himself. There's a lot of conflict that arises after. Gregory's guilt of losing his sister and his resulting determination to discover the truth drove the novella. 

As a horror novella, Reaper checks all the boxes: The monster was properly monstery, the MC likable, the plot fast-paced, and secrets around every corner. While Reaper felt slightly predictable and a little mild to me in terms of "scariness, I still enjoyed the heck outta itIt just lacked that extra edge to push it into "Let's sleep with the lights on" territory that I enjoy from my horror. 

I almost feel like this could be a horror novella for younger readers. It's fairly PG-14. Having the story told from the perspective of a 13 year-old was unconventional but fun.I think Gregory would be more relatable if the reader were closer to his age. I grew up reading the likes of R.L. Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Diane Hoh, and Christoper Pike and I'd like to think this novella Jonathan Pongratz would have fit in quite nicely on the shelf between those names.  


Jonathan Pongratz is a writer and author of captivating horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal stories. When he’s not writing, he’s busy being a bookworm, video game junkie, and karaoke vocalist. A former resident of Dallas, he currently resides in Kansas City with his halloween cat Ajax. By day he works magic in finance, by night he creates dark and mesmerizing worlds.