Book Review: Prince of Nightmares by John McNee

Ballador Country House Hotel is set in the isolated highlands of Scotland. Offering far more than a continental breakfast and free wifi, Ballador guarantees its guest will suffer crippling nightmares. This highly sought after hotel costs thousands of dollars per night due to the abnormally vivid nightmares – nightmares far more terrifying and real than any horror film.

Victor Teversham, an elderly magnate, finds himself staying the night at this mysterious hotel. The reason for his presence is due to his wife having committed suicide recently. Before doing so, Josephine Teversham made a reservation for her husband to stay at the haunted getaway. Investigating the reason as to why, Victor stays at the hotel and fulfills the reservation, quickly discovering the reason behind the nightmares that the hotel gives off.

First off, Prince of Nightmares is unlike most novels that deal with similar subject matter. For starters, the main protagonist, Victor Teversham, is an old man – 80 years old to be exact. This is no young investigator or survival girl. Victor is an old man that has reached his success through means that reflect the usual 1% white male. He is not a very likable character, none of the characters in this story are. Not that author John McNee has written a novel filled with spiteful characters that are impossible to like, they are just of a different breed than we are used to. It is a bold choice and one that pays off.

Secondly, I believe that Prince of Nightmares has more in common with a Lucio Fulci film than your typical haunted building story. This book is filled with violent, grotesque imagery and carries all sorts of ghouls and ghosts that are more common in an extreme horror film than the cover and plot would suggest. The balance between nightmare and reality is a beautiful ballet of psychedelic imagery. You will question things along the way and flip back to reread segments in excitement.

As Victor deals with the hotel and an internal struggle alongside Gia and several other characters, Victor’s assistant, Harry, conducts the investigation portion of the novel. Harry’s moments provide revelations that fuel the excitement behind what is happening with Victor and offer deeper meaning to the events that unfold. The story of the hotel could provide an entire prequel novel that would be just as entertaining as Prince of Nightmares.

Even though there is plenty of violence and gore, this is not a gore novel, nor is it meant to be a gross-out story. This is a very psychological tale, but it doesn’t shy away from the brutality. The hotel’s guests are experiencing vivid nightmares that accent some of our deepest fears. McNee does a tremendous job of scaring the hell out of you in quick fashion and then spinning your mind around insane concepts. This is the type of book that turns people into horror fans.