WATCHERS AT THE STRAIT GATE by Russell Kirk

WATCHERS AT THE STRAIT GATE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ten more supernatural tales from one of the art's leading practitioners (The Princess of All Lands, 1979), set forth in pleasingly literate prose--with darkly atmospheric settings, vital characters, but an overwhelming sameness. A black minister is challenged by a possessed gangster. An evil sorcerer, condemned to be executed, tries to shift his personality into the body of his judge. An extortionist is thwarted by a ghostly uncle. And so it goes--with a Scottish witch sending the spirit of her dead brother against a corrupt laird, the ghost of a convict returning to defeat a maniacal rapist/murderer, and a miserly farmer, murdered by his brother, coming back in vengeful style. (In another double-ghost story, the ghost of Frank Sarsfield--a ubiquitous Kirk character--visits an old priest. . . who also turns out to be a ghost.) True, two tales have minimal ghostly involvement: a salesman, visiting an old flame, finds her husband is poisoning her; and, during a house clearance, a book buyer realizes that the library's owner has been murdered by his family. But this is largely a stylish reworking of ghostly formulas of the old-fashioned sort: justice triumphs, the plots remain weak (often trivial), and the element of surprise is often little more than discovering which of the characters is the ghost. Entertaining, then, yet far from fully satisfying.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1984
Publisher: Arkham