Victor Teversham is staying at Ballador County House Hotel in the highlands of Scotland. The remote lodge serves gourmet food for dinner and nightmares for desert. The hotel has a reputation—patrons have horrific nightmares. (In a thrill-seeking world, that has become a draw.) Victor is curious about the nightmares himself, though he didn’t book the vacation. His wife made the reservation for him—just before she committed suicide.
In John McNee’s novel, Prince of Nightmares, the scares are real. Good adult horror leaves the reader disturbed, and McNee is a disturbing author. Malicious forces are at work in the Ballador, and they’re not just nightmares. The mystery behind what’s at stake drives the story, punctuated by dark imagery, gore and some wonderful characterization.
Like most good horror authors, McNee isn’t satisfied with just scares. He digs into his characters, exploring the nature of evil in a way that transcends the usual horror themes. When Teversham asks, “Am I a good man?” the reader finds, not a book in hand, but a mirror. That may well be the most potent nightmare of all. (Five stars out of five)