Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Damned, Frightfest Review - 5 Star Rating!

I'm astonished by this review. A full five-star rating from Frightfest? To me, that's like getting an Oscar. Stunned. Enjoy...

"Following the very well received (in these quarters) THE DEAD and THE DARK, THE DAMNED is the third and possibly final installment of an epic young adult horror trilogy. Following the action-packed ending of the second volume, THE DAMNED immediately hurtles the reader into an action scene. The plot finds teenage protagonist and Keeper of the Dead Lazarus Stone and his companions Arielle (a member of the heavenly host more than partial to the odd drink) and Abaddon (a reanimated and vengence obsessed Priest, or in Lazarus’ words “undead git”) embarking on a desperate mission into hell itself to rescue Lazarus’ father and friends who have been trapped in the bleak, purgatorial land of the dead. However matters take an even more dire turn when Lazarus is confronted by one of The Fallen, an angel exiled to hell, and discovers that hell is preparing an army of the dead to invade our world. Soon all that stands between the corporeal world and eternal damnation is one teenage boy with a bad attitude.

Author Gatward seems to have become more confident in his delivery and surer of his characters with each successive installment, and THE DAMNED is easily the best of the three books. He writes great pulp dialogue and conjures up a hi-octane juggernaut of a narrative that careers crazily from one outrageous setpiece to the next. This third volume takes on the epic tone that was hinted at in THE DARK. In an extended action scene a vast tower rises from hell bringing an invading army of the undead to earth. Our heroes must reach it and race towards it in a battered Land Rover. However a vast wall of flame originating from the tower is sweeping hell burning everything in its path. It is tempting to draw comparisons to Tolkein when reading this scene although Gatward credits an illustration by Stephen Jones in an H. P. Lovecraft collection as inspiration for the image of the tower.

Now all three volumes have been published, the trilogy really feels like a single complete novel, and could easily be read as such. This entire third part is almost one extended action-packed climax. Although written for young adults, I would recommend these books to adult readers looking for some exciting dark fantasy escapism without hesitation. They are the kind of imaginative, exciting horror thriller that seems all too rare in genre fiction aimed squarely at grown-ups. As the shelves of bookstores’ horror sections (if you are lucky enough to find a bookstore with a horror section) strain under the weight of endless identical zombie/viral contagion holocaust novels, reading these books took me back to teenage years spent voraciously consuming grisly James Herbert and Robert R. McCammon novels. Bliss."

No comments:

Post a Comment