The spirit of Death haunts a honky-tonk New Jersey shore town in this darkly atmospheric but tame new horror offering from...

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FOR FEAR OF THE NIGHT

The spirit of Death haunts a honky-tonk New Jersey shore town in this darkly atmospheric but tame new horror offering from Grant (The Pet, etc.). The burnt-out rains of the House of Night horror/fun house smudge the summer sun-bleached townscape of Oceantide, N.J.; the death of teen-ager Julie Etler in the fire just weeks ago similarly blots the lives of photographer Devin Grahame, who was teaching Julie his craft, and Julie's teen pals Tony, Mike, and Kelly. What Devin is keeping secret is the photo he took of the fire showing Julie surrounded by flames and laughing; but then how does a practical joker, mimicking her voice, know to leave the message ""I want my picture back"" on Devin's phone machine? Maybe it's not a joker at all: Tony swears he's seen Julie on the beach, and Tony and Mike and Devin's lover, Gayle, spot bag-lady Prayerful Mary days after she's died (a heart attack? or murder?) right outside the House of Night ruins. Moreover, a photo Devin shot of Mary dying shows an undefined face--a vagabond?--staring out from those rains. When the local police scoff at Devin's tales of eerie doings, he and Gayle decide to venture into the House to see whether a tramp did indeed kill Mary. As Julie reappears on the beach, and Prayerful Mary too--leading beachgoers in a Pied Piperish dance near the ruins--the three teen-agers chase after Devlin and Gayle into the House. There, the five encounter the source of the terror: only four escape as the House and its supporting pier collapse onto the beachgoers below. Grant's tight control over his near-poetic story--there's nary a wasted word--provides a splendid sense of menace and decay; but that same control pinches out the thrills that appeal to most horror readers--and in the end produces a read more admirable than enjoyable.

Pub Date: March 4, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988