Campbell's restraint and quiet stylishness are welcome commodities in the occult genre--but once again, as in The Parasite...

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Campbell's restraint and quiet stylishness are welcome commodities in the occult genre--but once again, as in The Parasite and The Nameless, his plotting is more muddled than subtle; and this time a multiple focus results in an unusually long and sluggish narrative. Eleven years back, five Britishers with clairvoyant-dream powers were gathered together for an experiment--abruptly ended when the criss-crossing dreams got too disturbing. So now, in alternating chapters, Campbell follows these five psychically gifted folks, all of whom are trying to forget or suppress their talents. Molly is a TV production assistant in London, in love with US filmmaker Martin; while working with him on a police-brutality documentary, she dreams that the police confess to the murder of a black prisoner--which leads to an actual confession. Helen is an unemployed librarian, determined to conceal her dream-power from her young daughter Susan (who has a creepy psychic playmate). Joyce is a fanatic social-worker, devoted to her center for the elderly--which is in danger of being eliminated. Freda is a provincial spinster, reluctantly using her powers to summon up dead husbands (or facsimiles thereof) for her widowed friends. And young Danny is a paranoid sexual psychopath, obsessed with S/M pornography, taking revenge on the female doctor from that bygone experiment (or is she just a psychic figment?). . . and planning similar revenge on Molly. Eventually, however, things get out of hand for all five psychics--Joyce's husband is driven to suicide, wee Susan gets possessed, Molly is beaten by Martin (or his psychic equivalent). So finally, through a series of coincidences and compulsions, they wind up together again--now realizing that their overlapping psychic force has somehow generated a Satanic enemy in human form (a Mr. Sage). . . whom they must conquer by. . . well, just how three of the dreamers survive isn't made quite clear. (""Don't ask how, just hold me,"" says Molly to the understandably baffled Martin.) Agreeable British backgrounds, nicely moody atmosphere--but it's all a slow, meandering build-up to an occult showdown that lacks the clarity, vividness, and chill of Stephen King or Robert R. McCammon (Mystery Walk).

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1983