Alan Ryker is an up and coming writer in the dark fiction genre. If you haven’t read him and you are a fan of the genre then you have some catching up to do and you are going to have fun doing it.
Nightmare Man is the most recent of several very good novellas and novels of Ryker that have been published by Darkfuse with several more on the way. This is not my favorite Ryker work. My personal favorites are the Vampires of the Plains series and The Hoard. Still, it was very good.
Characters drive Ryker’s work. Sure, horrific things happen. The baddies are up there with the best of them. His powers of description will bring a shudder (as in the case of the marvelous Vampires of the Plains series) or squeamish hives (in the case of The Hoard). But it is the characters that stand out for me. You really feel that you know them and there is a certain truth to them that comes from a sensitivity and empathy for his subject matter, whether it is the relative of a hoarder trapped in their obsessions, or in this case a man plagued by night terrors that not only destroy his peace of mind but, it seems, have the danger of crossing the bridge from the inner dreamscape to the outer real world.
In all of his works, you feel that Ryker understands and feels for his characters and knows what makes them act the way that they do. What drives the Hoarder? What are "night terrors" like and where do they come from? This adds a sense of realism to the fantastic, brings a whole deeper emotional level to the narration, and makes the stories so much more unsettling.
I gave this one somewhere between 3 1//2 to 4 stars because we have read stories like this before and I felt that I was on familiar ground. It is better than the usual story of this type because Ryker gets into what "night terrors" really are---the source and their effect of the sufferer. He really set the "originality" bar pretty high with The Hoard though, otherwise I probably would have rated higher.