Publisher: Polar Bear Books
We all have nightmares, but not all of us have to live them. Johnathon Clarke did. His bullies beat him. They humiliated him. They stole his life. So at the age of 17 he took it away with a bullet from a gun.
In Hell John finds himself working out his existence in the mailroom, until he's given the promotion he died for—he becomes the forger of nightmares, the giver of bad dreams.
With his new position, John makes his assignments feel the fear he’s felt his entire existence. He does this until he’s assigned a young girl named Danielle. Danielle’s not much younger than John was, and the circumstances surrounding why she’s been assigned are troubling. They’re troubling because he disagrees. Now John must decide between continuing this life of torture and scares, or using this dark gift for something else, something that could help this girl who needs him.
There came a point where you could tell that John was becoming jaded with his role. He's a torturer, a fear mongering boogeyman, to the living. Then, he meets Danielle.
Danielle is, as detailed in John's report, to suffer nightmares along with her father. She is a witness and never stops the beatings that her father inflicts upon her younger brother. For that, she is considered an accessory in the eyes of Hell. For that, she must suffer through John's nightmares. Though, much to John's surprise, he finds it a difficult task. She's a fifteen year old girl living in an abusive household. She takes on a lot of guilt and the nightmares seem unnecessary to John, with or without Hell's approval. The affection shared between John (a ghost) and Danielle (a living girl) came across as organic and touching.
There was also a nice twist to John's desertion and how the rules of Hell applied to him, a simple worker to the other side of Heaven. I liked that not everyone in Hell was insensitive. Not every sin or teachings of the Bible is without fault, or exception and I felt that this novel tested that. I'm personally not religious, but I can see how the author did a wonderful job at keeping certain beliefs intact while questioning others without prejudice or hate.
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Author Links: Webpage | Twitter @kennethbuff