The Stage Mother’s Club
Dark Edge Press
published June 6, 2022
Johnny Jenkins is the child star of a controversial exorcism film, The Damned.
A soldier suffering from PTSD, the only way he can keep his demons at bay is by writing.
As the cloistered, highly-successful writer of feel-good novels about mothers and sons, he has created for himself a comfort zone.
But he is soon brought back to the epicentre of his nightmares, his role in the movie and along the way discovers the horrifying backstory of The Damned.
While I am a thriller junkie, I love to throw in a little horror to mix it up. This one is a little bit old school movie horror and an action film all rolled up into one. And I can’t help thinking of the line from The Shining, “Here’s Johnny” when we learn the child actor’s name. So no matter what happened in the book, I think of Jack Nicholson’s deranged character at the end of the movie as the main character.
We start out with a traumatized child actor who had a role in an Exorcist type movie who turns into an elite soldier until he snaps, who then turns writer who writes books that are the exact opposite of what his life has encompassed. When the actor who is deep undercover having changed his name each time his life morphed into a new phase is found by the director of his movie, it sets off a plan of revenge to stop all those who were involved in exploitation in the horror movies from his childhood. As he sets off on this spree, he keeps blacking out and isn’t sure if he is exacting revenge or if there is someone on his same path. He is the epitome of an unreliable narrator.
I won’t kid you, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Johnny is deeply off kilter and the author’s writing style plays this up perfectly. Anyone who was a fan of those old horror movies will really enjoy this one.
Ron Capshaw is a writer based in Florida. His work has appeared in The Daily Beast, National Review, and The New York Post. The Stage Mother’s Club is the culmination of his childhood obsessions with 70s horror films (The Exorcist and The Omen) and 80s action films.