THE PORTENT by Marilyn Harris


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The earth is alive! At least it's literally alive and malevolent in Tomis, Colorado, the rehabilitated ghost town where some anti-suburbanites have been striving for a new life style--in this preposterous yet occasionally scary psychic fantasy of a truly living environment, in which even minerals can gobble down the living. Hal Kitchen, a Boston lawyer, falls in love with the ghost town of Totals, sells everything back home, buys 250 acres of land, and with his wife and two other couples moves in to found the new community. He also runs Hal's Kitchen, the town's central gathering place as more (generally shaky) families arrive. But the new settlers are in for much weirdness: young Kent Sawyer wanders off from town and is ""eaten by an animal"" (actually he's half-swallowed by a rock); doctor's wife Donna Dunne is attacked by a dead tree floating downriver, which rakes her violently; the likable, one-handed manager of a mining company with local interests turns out to have been dead for twelve years; a stoned teenage girl sees her Spanish boyfriend sucked into the earth in her backyard; Hal's jeep gets a deadly mind of its own on a mountain road; a gigantic rock leaps downhill onto a gas-station owner; the head of a retarded girl is dragged into town by a dog; a vicious pine tree splits a man's cabin; a woman is lashed by grass and swallowed up; and a May storm leaves Tomis snowbound while the earth around Hal's Kitchen turns to quobbling quicksand. So what, you ask, is really going on in Tomis? Well, according to visiting Dr. Roger Laing (extrapolating on his Hostile Earth Theory), Tomis lies on a major ley line of great magnetic force. . . and the earth is giving way under mining equipment. Total nonsense, delivered mostly in good old shlock style--but Harris' relentless intensity does manage to raise a goose-bump or two.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1980
Publisher: Putnam