JAGO by Kim Newman
Kirkus Star


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Once again, Newman (The Night Mayor, 1990; Bad Dreams, 1991)--in his best effort yet--strives to deepen the horror-novel genre, or give it new levels. Here, Newman builds upon the main device of Bad Dreams, in which dreams mushroomed into dreams within dreams. Like Yggdrasis, the World Tree of Eddic myth ruling The Night Mayor, and Mr. Skinner, the uncontainably passionate vampire ruler of Bad Dreams, the author's new villain swells larger than life even as it's known in fantasy novels. Jago, or ""Beloved,"" is both an unnameable or untraceable bolt of divine love in human form--who now rules a portion of the English countryside and attracts a huge Woodstock festival of millions to his love kingdom (he bleeds from stigmata; a taste of his blood brings bliss; his mere presence ravishes with sexual joy all who come near him)--and a Boschian nightmare who transfuses parts of the animal and vegetable kingdoms into each other. One farmer, on whose heat-wave-crisped land the festival blooms riotously, becomes The Green Man, the very spirit of the earth--a human bush bursting with dirt and green bulbs, his roots threading the bodies of his family members as he spreads over the entrance to Jago's temple, Agapemone. A woman's arm ends handless in a pistol--just as Bosch's human scissors runs about his hellgarden. Dreams are real and shared by others. The hero, writing a thesis on end-of-the-world millenarianism, cuts his shin against one of the ravaging metal monsters from Mars in H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds. Meanwhile, the plot, less spinal than cumulative, builds into the coming of Heaven on Earth where troubles melt like lemon drops way above the chimney tops and the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. A shot at the transcendental, with fantasy to splurge.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1993
Page count: 536pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf