In this horror sequel, a Vermont town prepares to host a Goth festival and hopefully maintain a centuries-old secret.
It’s 1987, and 19-year-old Chris Chandler has been released from the South Portland Juvenile Detention Center in Maine. After the gruesome events in Bemishstock, ending with the death of Mallory Dahlman and others, he’s continuing as a Mortsafeman—one who defends “the departed.” A man named Bernard Monsegur has asked him to house-sit his Marymount estate in Lewis, Vermont. Chris does so readily, because the vicious ghost of Mallory has taken revenge on a fresh victim in Bemishstock and he’d like to avoid the questions of journalist Jackie Cormier. Though Lewis is a dying town, Mayor Gerald Paget sees it as a potential tourist destination that utilizes, among other attractions, the Monsegur family cemetery. Wealthy librarian Rose DuCalice, Bernard's sister, finds the enterprise grotesque and hopes to stop it. On the mayor’s side is Gilbert Burgoyne, who’s inherited the decrepit Bijou Burgoyne theater from his father and is planning to transform it into a playhouse featuring violent “Grand Guignol” performances. Gilbert also happens to finance his art by stealing and selling skeletons. When Chris gets caught among these powerful factions in Lewis, he’ll do anything to soothe Mallory’s ghost and reunite with the enchanting Gillian Willard. This second installment of Blake’s (Dead Scared, 2017) series is quite the gift, complete with a black bow, to horror fans. He juggles the Gothic New England ambiance, the parade of sleazy characters, and the occasional supernatural mauling with panache. Gilbert is misogyny incarnate, calling his girlfriend, Doloroso Morgana, Dolli, “the best sex doll in the world,” while Paget treats his daughter, Geraldine, like a nonentity. Mallory’s manifestations are uniquely chilling, as her “blue glow” becomes a “crackling and fizzing,” akin to a blown fuse. The author will also charm those who love well-researched history, working into the bedrock of his plot the Gnostic sect of European Cathars from the Middle Ages. In addition, strutting, memorable characters make this chiller unmissable.
A ghoulish gem for those continuing—or new to—this series.