on 3 January 2013
Dead Ground is set in the fictitious Condal Islands, in the South Pacific, a place that was once the outer limit of humanity, the furthermost reach of eastward Polynesian migration. As on the similarly remote Easter Island, there are strange statues carved out of rock, left behind by a vanished people, and the novel describes how the arrival of an archaeological expedition upsets the balance of man and spirit, and unleashes an ancient horror.
The story takes place in the 1930s, and there is a stench of decaying empire about the isolated islands, with their opium-addicted white governor. Against this backdrop unfolds an intricate and highly original tale of the supernatural. Wheatley and Lovecraft are clear influences, but the convincing and well researched setting gives the story a unique twist.
If I have a criticism it is that the frequent switches of point of view can make the characters hard to distinguish at times, but once you have come to understand the conflicting forces at work in the Condals, this is a gripping tale which builds to a powerful and satisfying conclusion.
on 26 November 2013
An interesting idea, but full of clichés. The characters are stock, and very predictable. The story itself is not bad,
but ends abruptly, as if there might be a sequel. I enjoyed reading it, but found myself predicting the next
happening all the time, and recognising typecast characters, like the red-haired, large Scotsman, who is
mysterious because he has been travelling the Pacific islands in tramp steamers as a ship's doctor. (This is a
story set in the early 1900s).
A cross between a crime novel and a horror story, not quite pulling it off. I'll be interested enough to read
any new book by the author to see what his other works are like.
on 5 December 2013
Maybe I haven't read enough fantasy/horror to be critical, but I really loved this book. It is well-written, with good grammar and sentence structure, and the narrative flows well - it draws you through the story nicely, and the creepiness quotient slowly builds through the book. Chris builds an atmospheric picture and the end, when it comes, is perhaps slightly predictable but horrifically well-described. The ending is a bit enigmatic, which I found slightly frustrating, but it does leave the way open to a sequel. I agree with one of the other reviewers - it would make a good film.