An AA horror story that turns the Twelve Steps upside down—and wallows in sluggish language out of H.P. Lovecraft—by the author of, among others, Zod Wallop (1995). Spencer’s tale, though amusing, lacks the satirical bite that Twelve Steppers deserve. Still, the author builds quite a gothic tale from his villain’s demented discourse about AA as both a gift and a curse. Jack Lowry, an American literature professor now on his third rehab, finds himself falling for fellow drunk Kerry Beckett, an 18-year-old half his age. When Jack enters Hurley Memorial detox in Alexandria, Virginia, and is driven with a crew of drunks to a nearby church for an AA meeting, he’s met outside the church with demonstrators of a rival recovery group, called The Clear, which views AA as an abomination: its leaflets declare YOU ARE IN HELL and announce that The Unraveling is at hand. Candy-popping counselor Wesley Parks departs for a newer rehab, gets sidetracked into The Clear, and when he returns sits engrossed in deep conversation with his daily Jell-O. Then Kerry is kidnaped by Dorian Greenway, head guru of The Clear, who lives with his recovery coven in a hell-house whose carpets crawl with virtual snakes. Dorian professes rich ideas about alcoholism—it’s an ancient curse spread by Lovecraftian monsters, one of which lives in the swimming pool in Dorian’s basement and eats up AAs in a bloodspray. When Jack and fellow recovering alkie Ed Tilman sneak into the hell-manse to find Kerry, they come upon naked Clear recruits gathered about the swimming pool, with a bare Kerry apparently encased in a block of ice. And that’s just for starters, before the death machines show up. The best scene comes early, with a monstrous toilet that swallows a drunk.