Sunday, 16 March 2008

Guy N Smith Book Review - The Lurkers

Have you ever had that experience where you finish a book, put it down and then wonder what actually happened in the 200 odd pages you have just read? This Guy N. Smith novel reminded me of such an experience I had several years ago. You know how it goes, a long haul flight, hours of sleepless boredom, and you decide you need a looooooooong book - preferably one that requires zero brain power. So, between Australia and Los Angeles I started and finished Stephen King's Cujo. It was only after I emerged from my post-flight haze that it dawned on me that nothing had really happened in the entire book, that there'd been over 300 of charater development and I still actually couldnt care less whether they lived or died. And the dog wasnt even possessed - it just had rabies! I mean come on people! Apparently they even managed to make a movie out of it - well, the set would be pretty straightforward: you need a big dog, a car and 2 people inside. Just to demonstrate that the story could have been written on a paper napkin I will provide a summary:

  • Dog gets rabies
  • People drive to visit dog's owner
  • Dog attacks car
  • Car wont start
  • Car gets hot
  • People trapped in car

The Lurkers, whilst there was arguably a lot more action than in Cujo, left me with a similar feeling. Im not quite sure why, I think it is just that I don't like it when creating atmosphere is achieved primarily through 'unexplained feelings that something is wrong' - I am much more convinced by gruesome deaths or a series of unexplained accidents. In other words 'in your face; horror.

The story starts when an author and his family rent an isolated cottage in the welsh countryside, in order to get some peace and quiet to finish this latest novel. Unfortunately for him the cottage is surrounded by a collection of resentful and xenophobic locals, his kid is targeted by British-hating bullies that give even the headmaster of the school the willies and his wife is plagued by those aforementioned 'feelings'. Needless to say, the husband is quick to dismiss his wife's complaints, and prefers to concentrate his efforts on his novel and the bullies. Even when he finds his kid's cat gutted and hanging in a tree near the sacrificial alter just behind the cottage he's rented, he actually seems pissed off rather than scared.

Time passes, with a few more strange noises in the night, and threats from the locals, and the husband still carrying on as if everything was normal - of course, he's making no progress whatsoever on his book, and his wife is still hysterical. The last straw for the wife comes when her kid's new pet, a fluffy white bunny rabbit, is found with its stomach slit open on the sacrificial altar (which is probably fair enough).

When the wife leaves with the kid to stay with her parents, the husband thinks he can finally get some work done. But the dark forces (if that's what they are) have other ideas, and soon the husband is engaged in a one-man stand-off against an army of rifle-wielding white druids. There are certainly some tense moments, and it's certainly a good armchair read. This wasn't one of my personal favourites (just in case you hadn't figured that out yet), but for the less hardened Guy N. Smith readers, perhaps a good introduction. So, just a short advert for The Lurkers:

"Looking for a edge of your seat roller-coaster ride of terror and suspense? The look no further than Guy N Smith's latest novel The Lurkers. Witness one man's battle against dark forces and xenophobic locals that have caused his wife to flee for her life. Are the strange lights in the snow and the gruesome acts of ritual sacrifice the work of an ancient cult, or is there another, and probably even more improbable, explanation?"

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