Ghost Monster by Simon Clark (Supernatural Horror Novel, 2009).
A so-so horror tale from a British writer who’s done much better at other times. Set in a small town on the English coast, it has an isolated and frankly somewhat old-fashioned feel, despite it having been written less than a decade ago and (with the exception of 30 year previous introductory prologue) supposedly takes place in the 2009-version of “today.” The book’s very title (it’s what local children call a strange unsettling remnant of a bitter and superstitious, early 18th century past) comes off as sort of clunky to me, as well.
Of course, this being supernatural horror, it will immediately become clear that the ghostly evil long contained on ancient holy ground beneath the eerie image of the leader of a veritable army of insane and vengeful ghosts are all-too real (and about to force their way free to wreak grotesque havoc on everyone in their way).
The book centers on a pair of people who at first disbelieve and discount the legend of Justice Murrain, who terrorized the village way-back-when.
Jack Murrain is a direct descendant of the infamous madman. His aged but still vigorous father Jacob is the latest in a long line of family members to stand guard over the mausoleum where old Justice was interred (under the disturbing mosaic picturing him and where somehow, in magical terms that never really get explained, he and his personal insane asylum crew of ghostly followers are prevented from getting loose). Jack thinks his Dad has wasted his life (as several generations of the family before them) in a purpose Jack scoffed at. And he certainly has no intention of taking up the cause himself!
Meanwhile, the oddly named Pel Minton is a young woman (an American, we’re told) who is part of an archaeological team investigating the ancient graveyard (which has been used as such since pre-Roman times). She’s every bit as skeptical as Jack, at first.
But they’ll both learn better as weird and dangerous stuff starts happening. Cases of temporarily possessed people acting VERY weirdly and out of character (and violent) start popping up. A family led by a demented woman with a grudge against Jacob complicate things immensely and inadvertently help the ghost army get free. Long beforehand, Pel and Jack are convinced and they, with old Jacob’s help, have a final epic showdown, defeating and trapping Justice and company yet again.
The blood and gore here (along with a few bits of kinky sex) are quite sufficient. But the overall writing quality seems very uneven to me (as said above, Clark can and has done better). I never had the sense of the town as a real place. The means by which the ghosts are getting loose (erosion of the sacred soil around the mausoleum gets the blame, even before the misguided mortal baddies dig up the mosaic, setting the whole bunch completely free) doesn’t explain periodic previous limited outbreaks over past centuries. The means of sealing the ghosts back up struck me as too easy. Oh, and Pel did NOT sound very American to me.
Not the worst horror novel I’ve ever read. Just not a good one, either.