Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hallows Eve, by Al Sarrantonio

(pb; 2004)

From the back cover:

“After twelve years, Corrie Phaeder is returning home to Orangefield – the last place in the world he wants to be. Orangefield is a town of nightmares, a town where the impossible and the horrific happen all too often, where ghosts rise screaming from their graves, and where trick-or-treating goblins have no need for scary costumes.

“Something is waiting patiently for Corrie's homecoming. This Halloween, a messenger from a realm of shadows, with the body of a scarecrow and the head of a pumpkin, will usher Corrie into what might prove to be his last nightmare, a battle to the death with the ultimate darkness.”


Sarrantonio's writing is focused, assured and entertaining, the kind of writing that reads like an effortless effort. The characters are well-developed and fleshed out, and their personalities flavor the story's mounting dread-mood. Sarrantonio offsets the grim horror aspects (which are genre-familiar, but not cliched) with eclectic humor and third-act pseudo-fantasy quest elements.

The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel – in a plot-natural way, not an obvious, forced way – and I, for one, welcome it. Unexpectedly sublime work that reminds me, tone-wise, of many of my favorite B-horror flicks.

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