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For his 17th horror novel, Herbert goes back to Haunted (1989) to recover his footing after some weaker tries to scare the reader. Returning is alcoholic psychic investigator David Ash, who suffered a nervous breakdown following his stay at the crumbling Edbrook mansion. Here, Ash is still haunted by Edbrook's ghosts as he investigates a new uprising of the paranormal at the hidden village of Sleath. Even readers who scoff at gooseflesh may get the creepy-crawlies as Herbert lets out all stops but keeps his ghostland hyperbole to a midrange level. Ellen Preddle sees her 11-year-old son, Simon, who drowned in the bathtub, still lurking about the house. Why? Well, in part, as Ash discovers, because Simon's father, who abused him sexually and died a year before him in a strange haystack fire, is also still around--though now black and crumbling from his incineration--and won't let Simon move on to the next world. Ash finds that Sleath is spiritually dominated by the Lockwood clan, whose evil goes back to the Crusades, black arts imported from Egypt, and whose members more recently gave birth to the Hellfire Club. Ash falls for Grace Lockwood, a sometime psychic like himself, who can read his haunted mind when they make love. But Grace too is haunted at a genetic level by her ghastly family, and uncovering Grace's past becomes the novel's pivot. Meanwhile, Sleath itself is invaded by many more horrors, one of the neatest of which is two sets of floating body parts trying to reassemble themselves so they can couple in midair. Other bloody eruptions follow, including an especially grisly bit about a poacher who falls on one of his own arrows and...well, you'll find out. Familiar stuff, working toward Sleath's invasion by a flesh-mist, but page by page Herbert grips by anchoring us into his skeptical psychic investigator.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperPrism