Posted on March 10, 2010 by Steven Dawes
Available at DriveThruHorror.com
Series written by Guido Henkel
I’ve not experienced “Dime Novels” before. I’ve never really even seen one before, although growing up my mother owned a “collector book” composed of several dime novel reprints that I once looked through. They’re a format that seems to have died out here in the union long ago. It looks like however, that the “Dime Novel” format could be on the verge of a comeback.
My dad happened upon a new gothic horror series while visiting one of his favorite websites and asked me to check it out. Following his queue I did a little homework and indeed I’d discovered a new book series titled “Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter”, a series written in the spirit of the “Dime Novel” format. This initiative brushed my interest with a fine tooth comb and I inquired further with Guido Henkel, the author of this series in progress. Guido turned out to be a really cool guy and was kind enough to send me the first two novels to read and review.
When they came in the mail, I was a little surprised by their physical size. They are about half the size of a comic book with a page count of only sixty four pages each. Again, I’ve not read nor ever held a true “Dime Novel” before, so this was a new experience all around. In a world of large and epic stories taking tons of space on your book shelf, can something this small be entertaining and enjoyable? Can the experience of such a short story be worthwhile? Are these “fun size” stories really fun to read? YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT FOLKS!
My first opportunity to sit down and read the first volume came while waiting for my wife, who was having surgery on her sinuses (she’s doing fine, thanks for asking). I had a few hours to kill in the waiting area, which made cracking open Volume I an ideal opportunity. What Jason Dark offers is a fast paced, action packed adventure that reads quickly. It’s not Shakespeare, it’s not Stephen King, nor is it an engrossing mind job of a horror story that mentally beats you violently and senselessly. But you know what? It didn’t have to be. It was just plain fun and easy reading, something that I found surprisingly satisfying!
I don’t recall the last time I was able to sit down to a book and get through it so quickly and have such a lax and fun time doing so! The adventures are told in a dramatic, fast paced and yet simplistic method and the pages just flew by. So my experiment with Volume II was to read it over my lunch hours at work. Its size allowed me to slip it into my back pocket, freeing a hand to allow carrying my drink and lunch bucket without juggling a book in the mix. I finished reading it over two sittings, and again it made for a smooth, fun and easy read. In a way it was a gratifying experience to be able to just read through them at my own pace and not have to worry about remembering all the details that a large and epic story that takes weeks to read over my lunch hours require.
Then I tried another experiment, I asked my daughter (who turns fifteen next week) to read the two volumes and let know what she thought of them. Guido’s method of telling a horror story (or perhaps its just the way of “The Dime Novel”) is to be direct and matter of fact in the violence and moments of horror. There is no lavishing on the gruesome and disgusting here, making it an ideal read in my opinion for teenage horror fans in training as much as they are for those who don’t enjoy the hardcore horror story. I’m happy to report that my suspicions were correct as my daughter, who’s really into “manga books” right now, was able to enjoy these tales as well.
And what of the protagonist, the “Geisterjäger” Jason Dark? What can I say, I dig this cat! Imagine a setting in the heart of Victorian England and an intellectual character in the vein of a Sherlock Holmes type of hero who hunts and confronts supernatural evil and you’ve got the idea. There are a lot of classic horror elements to these stories and the familiar backdrop makes getting in and out of such a quick story that much easier to enjoy. Volume I has him dealing with demons while Volume II brings on the vampires (in a more “Nosferatu” style of vamp no less). The city of London is depicted in surprising detail and there are some great cameo’s of both historical and literary significance from the time period sprinkled in as well. In short, they are quick stories, but they can offer features that you can discuss with other readers afterwards.
I’ve been enlightened to the world of “Dime Novels” just as much as I’ve been enlighten to the world of Jason Dark. I encourage you to pick up and enjoy these stories as I have, unless that is, your afraid of the dark. You can either purchase the ongoing series in paperback format by visiting JasonDarkSeries.com (free shipping no less) or you can collect them in e-book format by visiting DriveThruHorror.com. I happened to notice that the series made the “Staff Favorites” list on the front page of this site. It seems that I’m not the only one who’s been enjoying this new series.
Side Note: I had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a phone conversation and interview with series author Guido Henkel. Keep an eye out (or both of them if you prefer) for the interview here on Flames Rising.
Review by Steven Dawes