Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prey by Graham Masterton

(pb; 1992, 1999)

From the back cover:

"There's something in the attic of Fortyfoot House.  Something that rustles.  Something that scampers and scratches.  Something with fur.  But it isn't a rat.  It's something far, far more terrifying than a rat.

"Recently divorced, David Williams takes a job restoring Fortyfoot House, a dilapidated 19th-century orphanage, hoping to find peace of mind and get to know his young son, Danny.  But then he hears the scratching noises in the attic.  And he sees long-dead people walking across the lawn.

"Does Fortyfoot House exist in today, yesterday, or tomorrow - or all three at once?  Only one thing is certain - it is a house with a dark, unthinkable secret that threatens to send David's world hurtling into a living nightmare.  A nightmare that only David himself can prevent - if he can escape the thing in the attic."


This is a disappointing work from a normally-excellent author.  What makes Prey disappointing is that its lead character, David, is a plot-convenient-idiot-encounters-haunted-house dumbf**k, risking the lives of his son (Danny) and his girlfriend (Liz) by staying in the house, even when it's clear that the house contains malefic elements that wish them serious harm, if not death.

What kept this deeply flawed work (barely) readable was Masterton's, intriguing science fiction spin on the spookhouse genre: the idea that Fortyfoot House is a triple-fold time machine, linked to Lovecraftian/horrific ancient pasts, is a wild and fun concept, when it works; sadly, the efficacy of the concept is often thwarted by David's bonehead actions, which are especially dumb, even for a b-movie horror character.

Prey is recommended only for hardcore Masterton fans, who must read everything this otherwise fantastic writer publishes - and even then, check it out from the library.

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