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As a schlock horror, it has a well developed and pretty intricate plot that ties in the different members of the Nielson family - from the Nobel Laureate father Cameron (destroyed by the Monster in the McCarthy Hearings), to the drug taking, drop-out sister Judi (whose unpleasant death triggers the plot), to the genius half-brother composer Cameron Jnr (for whom the Monster was an evil childhood imaginary friend) to Anne herself, whose investigations into her sister's death bring her face to face with the monster. I will say however, that I found the tie-ins between the Monster and Cameron Jnr and Judi weren't nearly as well-thought out or satisfying as those with the father (which I found to be very imaginative and credible).

The Monster is given a strong background and sense of history, and he at least has a motivation for the whole killing, mind-sucking thing that you can buy. I particularly liked the backstory relating to his existence as the King of Cats and his apparent demise at the hands of three warriors - very chilling. Where I thought the Monster fell down though was in the motivation for his hatred of the Nielsons. It seems to stem essentially from his wanting revenge against an Older Monster who was serving as patron to Cameron Snr and rather than go against her, he decides to take it out on Cameron, Snr and his family. As motivations go, it's a little tenuous and whilst I understand the Monster wanting to suck the genius out of Cameron, Snr, I don't get why he wanted the waster daughter, Judi.

Where it falls apart for me is in the final section where the Monster weaves a nightmare scenario for Anne based on her father's most famous play and forces her to believe that she's a character within that production. I found these scenes pretentious (particularly with the references to real life actors who had been in the supposed movie version of the play) and it really halted the action. If the intention was to have Anne confront and defeat the Monster within his own dream world, then I wish it had been played out in another way because this really smacked of Kim Newman simply wanting to wave his movie geek credentials around.

As a horror novel, it fulfils the gore quotient quite nicely - all the head ripping and dismemberment does make you shudder from time to time. There's also a particularly nasty scene where a man buggers another man with an unpeeled carrot and then eats it. You have to read it to believe it.
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on 28 November 2014
A visceral and psychological chiller, well up to Newman's usual standards.

Just a note for Newman afficianados: the "short story" Bloody Students which is packaged in this book is, in fact, the "Jack Yeovil" novella Orgy of the Blood Parasites. So don't buy it expecting new fiction, but it is a handsome new edition for people looking to replace either of their old copies of these books, or for those unable to track down a reasonably-priced second-hand copy.
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