A crackerjack offering of horrors new and old from the author of The Damnation Game and Weaveworld (both 1987). What's new is the ferocious title short novel; what's old--but fresh to our shores--are the four short stories that follow, first published in Britain in 1983 as Volume VI of The Books of Blood. The novel, set in Canada, recasts in high style several of Barker's perennial themes: the erotic bond that survives even death; a magical world just out of sight; the abyss of human evil. Here, an emotionally disturbed man, Boone, is tricked into believing he's a serial killer by his shrink, Decker--the real killer. Boone runs to the isolated hamlet of Midian, where the police shoot him dead. His grieving lover, Lori, drawn to Midian, discovers there a hidden community of the undead--""the Nightbreed""--with Boone among them, given shelter because the monsters' blood flows in his veins, courtesy of a bite just before the police bullets struck. Lust between human and undead; violent vengeance as Boone and Decker clash; and the destruction of Midian ehsue as Barker erects his story in quick but vaulting prose (""Of all the rash and midnight promises made in the name of love, none, Boone now knew, was more certain to be broken than: 'I'll never leave you'""). After this allegro concerto of horror, the four stories appear as mere scales, early yet excellent practice in more traditional forms. A woman is compelled to haunt an ancient charnel house (""The Life of Death""); in ""How Spoilers Bleed,"" jungle explorers endure an Indian curse; ""Twilight at the Towers"" illuminates truly inhuman spies: and, in the straightforward ""The Last Illusion,"" a psychic detective battles demons bent on taking possession of a stage magician's soul. Glistening terrors, especially that novel, and yet more evidence--if anyone needs more--that Barker has dethroned King as horror's monarch.