LULLABY (NIGHTMARELAND CHRONICLES – BOOK TWO)
By Daniel Barnett
Nightfall, the debut for Barnett’s new Nightmareland series, was one of my Top Reads of 2019; so, clearly I’ve been eagerly anticipating the next installment. Enter Lullaby, a bridge-like novella that extends us to the next big move in John and Maria’s journey together. Let’s check out this quick blurb for it:
These are the words John Hawthorne whispers on a forgotten back road when a passing cloud reveals the moon.
For the moon cannot shine without the sun, and so its presence above can only mean there are other forces at play behind the night. Terrible, unspeakable forces, whose designs for humanity will soon become known . . .”
Though it feels like little happens in these 97 pages, we actually learn some important things. One, as you’ve probably assumed, is the disappearance of the sun isn’t something natural. It didn’t just die. Strange things are at play. I note this because it’s right there in the blurb, and not what I would consider a spoiler. Two, I cannot say, because it is not in the blurb. But let’s just say the strange gets stranger. (Que unnerving static.) And three, more characters will come into play moving forward. Seeing as Barnett has said Nightmareland will be twelve or more entries deep, that is no surprise (though a welcomed confirmation!).
So, here’s the thing: even if this is what I would call (and already called above) a “bridge” installment in the series, it is still fantastic. You know you’re reading a good writer when a bridge book makes you swoon. Barnett’s writing here consistently brought to mind Stephen King, which was exciting (seeing as King is my biggest influence and idol in writing style) – he has a way of sounding both informal and poetic, crass yet appropriately literary. For a horror novel to do that is something very special. Barnett writes like a madman pouring out his every passing thought, none of which feels useless or existing for shock. It all works together because it all belongs together.
Nightmareland is just getting started, people. With at least another ten installments on the way, it’s safe to say Barnett is attempting an epic in the likes of The Stand – and I’m more than down for that. In fact, I think I said this same thing for Nightfall, more or less.
Barnett can write!
Review by Aiden Merchant (Author of Dead as Soon as Born, Kill for Them, and Horrific Holidays)