BAD DREAMS by Kim Newman


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 Riotously inventive horror fantasy, the second novel by the author of the wildly original The Night Mayor (1990). Newman trumps up some superbly clever devices here, and at last creates a heroine we can care about, or almost care about, before she fades into the Dreamscape. The American sisters Anne and Judi Neilson and their half-brother Cameron Neilson III (a famous minimalist composer), children of Nobel Prize playwright Cameron Neilson, live in London, where Anne writes and Judi, a junkie S&M prostitute, hires herself out to be beaten. In the first chapter, Judi is eaten alive while turning a trick, or has the blood and most of her flesh sucked out of her, as well as her mind and memory, by Mr. Skinner, a vampire known as the King of the Cats, or leader of the Kind, who was once a master of the now-vanished Immortal Empire. Very few vampires still walk about, and Mr. Skinner himself has only one rival, Ariadne, a sexy vamp much older, smarter, and more powerful than he. Anne tries to trace Judi's path through the whoreworld to find out just how her sister's corpse had aged into a very old woman's. Judi's prostitute friend Nina leads Anne to the mansion of Amelia Dorf (``It was the kind of quietly well-off residential street where mass murderers live...''--a kind of Karloffian understatement) where an S&M party is in full swing, ruled by the Game Master, Mr. Skinner. We'll say no more, only that Mr. Skinner's vampirism is a boldly invented passionate state that can barely be contained by human form; that the Old Dark House becomes a dream house in which rooms lead into mindrooms into dreamrooms; that at one point Mr. Skinner falls into a feeding frenzy and eats up the whole party, then licks his lizard-long tongue at Anne and begins chasing her through the walls.... When you meet Mr. Skinner, remember that he bears the memories of all his victims, and that when you join him you join all of them as well. Comforting.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-88184-781-X
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991


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