Revenge Of The Manitou (Graham Masterton)

The 71 year old Edinburgh-born author has an unusual pedigree. He used to write sex books like How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed – 3 million copies of that one sold. He was also heavily involved as an editor for porn mags like Mayfair and Penthouse too. Then he became a prolifically successful horror novel writer. Interesting…anyway, this follow up to his earlier The Manitou is much more entertaining. At first I was leery as the book opened with the focus on an eight-year old protagonist, but I quickly warmed-up to Toby and the Fenner clan. 

A 1979 Lovecraftian horror/ western/ ghost story – what’s not to like? Well, plenty if you object to women characters seemingly existing only to be vague stereotypes, or to be victimized in order to spur on the protagonist. Or, in the case of this book, both. Maybe the ending is a bit too over the top as well. But mostly, Revenge Of The Manitou ticks all the boxes for a successful horror novel. There’s an appropriate air of menace and the enemy and it’s machinations become clearer as the pages are turned. Ultimately Harry Erskine and his medicine man friend will pitch their efforts against the malevolent Misquamacus, who’s back with a new and insidious plan. As the rule of sequels dictates, the action is broader, faster and with bigger implications. The horror however, is more subtle than his later work, although there is one particular stand out scene where Masterton’s genius stands out.

A boy named Toby Fenner begins to freak out his parents when he and his classmates start seeing ghostly apparitions, having nightmares, drawing horrendous pictures in crayon, and speaking in guttural voices about nonsense like “the day of dark stars” and “the prophecy buried on the stone redwood.” Cue more mysterious and deadly occurrences that convince the boy’s father, Neil, that his son is being controlled by the dreadful Misquamacus, a most powerful medicine man. The novel feels a bit half-hearted and even under-written in places, although things pick up with the return of that sham occultist Harry Erskine and his pal Singing Rock, the modern-day medicine man who uses his powers for good. On the whole though, the rest is typically early Masterton: quick paced, monumentally silly and entertaining in a thoroughly guilty manner. Plus you’ve gotta’ love a horror novel which contains a scene where one of the characters is actually raped by her possessed bed sheets!

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