Books by Charles Grant

RIDERS IN THE SKY by Charles Grant
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

Last chord in Grant's Millennium Quartet, a combo featuring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that began with Symphony (1997), in which the end of the world was seemingly foretold by such harbingers of doom as a Lincoln Continental ("silver horse in full gallop fixed on the hood") as Death, the rough beast slouching toward the small town of Maple Landing. All plotless nuance, this led to the horseman Famine in In the Mood (1998) as riots came to New Orleans, the mad were loosed upon the world, and food shortages spread globally. In Chariot (1998), the horseman Plague attacked the world, and (in seeming homage to Stephen King's The Stand) a super-virulent smallpox mutation killed millions—but not supernaturally protected Las Vegas. Now the horseman War appears, as Father Casey Chisholm, a giant ("and he is alone"), as well as Jude and her daughters Moonbow and Starshine return. Wars erupt worldwide. Grant brings on relentlessly rainy, autumnal, twilit warning weather throughout until the apocalyptic battle is fought against the Four Horsemen. As before, too much feels hacked out, with comic-strip sympathetic characters too one-note and sentimentalized. Grant had some kind of big blind poem in mind when he rapped for the downbeat, summoned up his elementals and set forth like Mahler tramping into the black woods of his Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh. But Mahler it's not. Read full book review >
CHARIOT by Charles Grant
Released: Oct. 23, 1998

Has a glowing dragon curled around Las Vegas in the night in this third installment of Grant's Millennium Quartet, which features the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as its framing device? In the lackluster opening volume, Symphony (1996), the pale horseman Death descended on the town of Maple Landing and created a host of bizarre effects. In In the Mood (1998), the horseman Famine attacks New Orleans and mass murderers were loosed upon the world. Now the horseman Plague has attacked the world, with only Las Vegas mysteriously free of the super-virulent smallpox mutation killing millions. Outside of Vegas rests the abandoned village of Emerald City, where drifter Travis Falkirk lives for the moment and protects the little sisters Moonbow and Starshine and their mother, Jude. Travis has a beautifully black-painted and polished old pickup truck he calls Chariot, with which—aided by angels—he will right the dragon. Travis also has a magic touch that lets him best slot machines and cover his expenses. As it happens, Las Vegas is off-limits to the plague because the horseman waits there for Travis. Grant's thought behind this quartet is that the turn of the millennium sponsors weird and paranormal events that emerge from the dark side of man's nature. If these events were of a more Jungian and archetypal nature, and less a sandstorm of melodrama, they might be more effective. As is, they feel merely hacked out. Many readers will recall Stephen King's superflu in The Stand, a novel that also came to focus on a supernaturally evil figure in Las Vegas. Read full book review >
IN THE MOOD by Charles Grant
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

Famine now leads the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as they sweep across the planet in volume two of the Millennium Quartet, following the plotlessly sluggish Symphony (1996), which was devoted to Death. This new installment is more subtle than its predecessor, relying more on nuance to suggest the final cataclysm that will be played out in far-off volume four. This time, the story focuses on former CPA-turned-writer John Bannock, now in New Orleans researching a book on mass murderers. Wife Patty and son Joey have left him because of his obsession with this gruesome subject, so the depressed Bannock pursues Lisse Gayle Montgomery, a waitress, to help beat the blues. When her boss fires her, John hires Lisse to type up his interviews. Ghosts of executed interviewees float about him, and a spooky man in a white suit dogs him: Reverend Lanyon Trask, whose eye is on the Antichrist. Meanwhile, Father Chisholm (from Symphony) tells Bannock that they are both men marked by the evil furies. Strange crows with blue eyes abound, and John and Lisse are attacked on a ferry by a famished boy sporting sharpened brass knuckles—a boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bannock's son. Food grows short. People riot and die. Do crows attacking humans, and soundless windstorms and thunder out of clear blue skies, portend the end of the world? Has the Antichrist arrived? Is his presence announced by the swollen ranks of mass murderers at loose in the world? What part, exactly, does Rod Gillespie, an escaped serial killer, play in bringing about the end of the ages? As worldwide famine settles in, things begin to look bleak, but not as bleak as when Joey, astride a palomino, turns into the Second Horseman. The Glenn Miller title idea of the Apocalypse being bouncy fun calls for Terry Southern, who is not available. Simply feels ground out. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Anthology of 19 new ghostly tales, although few whomp up any sort of gothic atmosphere or induce shivers. The more effective tales: Brian Stableford's ``Seers,'' about an old woman imprisoned by the ghosts she sees even though they can't physically affect her; ``Unexpected Attraction,'' a rather waggish tale of a duped lover gaining his revenge upon a conniving ghost (Matthew J. Costello); and the one genuinely haunting piece here, Russell J. Handelman's ``And the City Unfamiliar,'' about the motives and perceptions of a ghost who, pathetically, doesn't realize that he is a ghost. Elsewhere the offerings are more or less standard: several who's-the-ghost variations, a woman saved from death by the ghost of a dog, evil children's ghosts trapped in fireplaces, a hotel resort fire, a vengeful stonecutter, a possessive homicidal house, storytelling ghosts, the ghost of an old woman's youth, a mother's ghost who seeks replacements for her own vanished children, a dominating mother, a sick joke that goes awry, a philandering father, and more. Except for the few noted above: a bland assortment without much range or depth. Read full book review >
RAVEN by Charles Grant
Released: March 1, 1993

A mysterious stranger stalks a blizzard-bound motel: a tightly wound if familiar exercise in claustrophobic terror by veteran horror novelist Grant (Stunts, 1990, etc.). ``Past sunset in early February, the worst time of the year....Too cold. Too quiet...No snow. No wind. The landscape gray and dead'': Grant employs unusually spare prose here to evoke a desolate winterscape and the nine characters trapped within it, going a long way toward making you forget that a bunch of people stuck in an isolated lodge with a maniac on the prowl is the biggest clichÇ in horror fiction. The characters are sharply drawn, from protagonist/motel-owner Neil Maclaren, a retired cop, to the usual motley crew of potential victims: an eccentric cook and a tough-minded waitress; two young lovers; a slick N.Y.C. radio personality; his bitter wife and her friend, a call girl; an obnoxious drunk. A raven settling on a nearby fence portends evil, which itself arrives in the ravenlike figure of a tall, black-clad man—who appears outside the motel, shotguns the drunk dead, then vanishes into the woods. Maclaren and his charges try to seek help, only to find the phone lines cut and their cars disabled. The man reappears and vanishes again, leaving no tracks in the snow. Is he human? What does he want? Even as the ``black ghost'' stands vigil over the motel, these questions and the terror of impending death catalyze the snowbound band into a frenzy of accusation, revelation, and, finally, murder—until only two are left: Maclaren and one other. A climactic confrontation between Maclaren and the man in black explains the stalker's purpose—but only by plunging this crisp psychothriller into murky occult waters. As cool and clean as a snowflake—though this novel, too, melts at the end. Read full book review >