City of Blood - by Daniel Barnett
Updated: Jan 6
The fifth entry in Daniel Barnett’s Nightmareland series, “City of Blood”, feels woefully short. It is hard to believe it clocks in at however many pages it encompasses because they fly past like the wind. In fact, I'm very glad that the next book is the longest in the series because by now, Daniel has made it that we need to not stop reading his novels. Just how long can he keep this up?
Barnett builds in this book, upon the foundations of mistaken beliefs revealed in his previous book, “The Flashlighters”, and rips apart the carefully woven net of half-truths. It’s like having a particularly crusty scab peeled off, to reveal the gaping raw emotional wound of reality underneath, and it’s fantastic stuff. To have built those lies so believingly, and have them then about-face and shown for the lies that they are, but not have the protagonist at fault for those mistruths – well – this is Daniel doing what he does best – writing complex, emotionally biting, tension-filled situations in which he throws his three main characters, all of whom are so fundamentally different, that together they are unstoppable. That they are emotional wrecks through their experiences just makes the thing even more readable.
I loved the character progression for John in this book, after having had him so distant for two of the four books, the lengths that he goes to make sure Marco remains safe, is big-screen cinema action. You are right alongside him as he trawls through the arena. Perhaps he really is someone to cheer on, as he wades through hell to protect the ones he has come to love, even if he won’t admit that feeling to himself.
This book also throws the reader some answers – not least of which the identity of the sad boy (I wasn’t too far off, it seems). The connection to john and his immunity to that lullaby's explanation is still to be revealed, but with the next book up, Lilly, clocking in as the longest installment to date, I have high hopes that we are going to get some reveals that thrust us into the second half of the chronicles.
This maintains Daniel’s high standards, my loyalty to the series grows with each book.
5 out of 5⭐'s. Can’t wait for Lilly (and I’m going to finish it before new year’s – that’s a Christmas present all to myself).
Daniel, Nightmareland is astonishing. Keep going, mate.
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