When Beth finds herself waking up covered in dirt and with no memory of what happened to her during the night, she assumes that she's just been sleepwalking. But when she finds herself gorging on food to try and stem an insatiable appetite and hears stories of a local desecrated grave she realises that something is changing within her. Something evil.
As Beth, helped by her protective elder brother Louis, best friend Coll and sometime boyfriend, Ivan try to work out what's happening to her, they discover an old family secret linked to an ancient evil. An evil that wants to use Beth to take control of the world ...
Melvin Burgess's horror novel is an unsatisfying shlock-filled story that lacks the rich characterisation and sharp turns of phrase that characterise his other work. Although the action kept coming there were holes in the story that I couldn't overlook and as such, it didn't work for me as a horror novel and it left me very disappointed.
Beth's actually an interesting character. I liked the fact that she's got no illusions about the womanising Ivan and is happy to use him for sex without accepting his offers of commitment and I believed in her friendship with Coll. However, I didn't buy into the big revelation about her past, mainly because I didn't believe that she had no recollection of it and there was no hint from her brother or father (even an accidental one) and I was never really sure how her ability worked or why it was so important.
Burgess plays with ghoul mythology but it doesn't really seem to go anywhere, instead coalescing into a bog standard big bad villain who wants to use Beth for nefarious and underdeveloped purposes. Similarly underdeveloped are Ivan, Louis and Coll who aren't much more than stereotypes. As such they have a disposable feel that stopped me from feeling sorry for them when bad things happen.
There are a number of missing scenes in the book that jarred with me - most notably with a character death that came out of left field and felt a little cheap. I also found the ending unsatisfying and open-ended, which I suspect is to leave the way open for a sequel. I'm normally a big fan of Burgess's work but this just didn't work for me and as such, I wouldn't read any planned sequel.
If I were to sum up this book in one line I'd have to modify a line from the original Romero "Night of the Living Dead." "They're coming to get you Beth."
All round this no hold barred Hammer title really gives the reader what they want, there's gore, there's otherworldly creatures and when you add to this solid prose, great twists and a nod of the head to one of the greats that have gone before, really makes this a book to sit down and devour. Back that up with a cracking plot, a reasonable cast and all round if you want some classic horror in your bedtime reading, this will more than hit that spot. Great stuff.
“For the dead, the hunger that never ends.”
This is the first book by this author that I have read, and I came across it by chance while browsing Amazon.
Beth wakes up one morning to find herself covered in dirt, her hands scratched, her mouth filled with grit, her clothes caked with mud. Desperately she convinces herself that it really is nothing, but after a few more odd episodes she can’t hide it from her brother and housemates any more. But when they all try to find out what’s happening to Beth, they come a lot closer to their primal fears than they would have wished to.
A good read, a shlocky Hammer horror that you can imagine being made into a slightly cheesy film. Good entertainment with just the right amount of horror and suspense, nothing too startling, but all good horrifying fun.
on 27 May 2015
I like Hammer books and like horror, when i started reading this i thought, wait a minute this YA (young adult) fiction, i thought it was a kids book!! Its not apparently, really enjoyable, no character development what-so-ever, daft wee story to read in one or two sittings, would probably make a great wee film!! If you want classic absorbing fiction, look elsewhere, but fun!!!