Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though this latest horror novel from the author of The Night Mayor draws on conventional elements of the genre, it is a distinguished literary effort rooted in the emotional interiors of three-dimensional characters. Anthony Jago, a former priest with powerful psychic abilities, has set up a religious cult house in the small British town of Alder, the site of an annual Woodstock-style rock festival that attracts members of many different countercultural groups. As the festival opens, Jago's powers turn evil; he is able to raid peoples' minds and hearts and bring their desperate fantasies to life--fantasies that conjure up creatures ranging from evil dwarves to a murdered biker's ghost to a Martian invasion. As Jago begins to recreate the Book of Revelations in Alder, the only hope for the town, and perhaps the world, is Susan Ames, a psychical agent of the British secret service, who has infiltrated Jago's organization. Newman's prose is sophisticated and his narrative drive irresistible. The realistically blase way characters accustomed to the rapidly changing contemporary world react to the sudden appearances of horrors and monstrosities, and the manner in which the supernatural is depicted--as if ghouls and goblins were no less likely than a nuclear bomb or a toxic waste dump--are only two of this fine novel's many strengths. (Jan.)
In the English village of Alder, Anthony Jago has set up a religious community called the Agapemone, the ``Abode of Love.'' The residents of Alder for the most part ignore the hippielike, beatifically smiling cultists and the fact that their own young people are being drawn into Jago's influence. However, the Agapemone's yearly rock music festival is nearing and the village is divided: some like the revenue brought in by the concertgoers, while others resent the rowdy hordes. Two researchers infiltrate the commune and discover that Jago, a priest defrocked for sexual misconduct, believes he is the second coming of Jesus and that any who are not the Beloved's Chosen are enemies to be destroyed. As concertgoers pour into Alder, the combination of music, summer heat, and tensions spark a mad culmination of Jago's inhumanly powerful delusions in a riot of visions that threatens to engulf the entire village. By the author of The Night Mayor (Carroll & Graf, 1992) and Bad Dreams (Carroll & Craf, 1991), this novel is recommended for general collections.-- A.M.B. Amantia, Population Crisis Committee Lib., Washington, D.C.
During an unexpected heat wave in the small village of Alder in contemporary Somerset, England, locals and visitors gather to prepare for a yearly festival of music, drinking, and feasting. The rowdy but relatively harmless celebration quickly becomes profane, as diabolic occurrences radiate from the festival's sponsors, a wealthy cult of religious fanatics who worship their psychically talented "Beloved," Anthony William Jago. Behind the scenes and keeping watch on Jago's activities is a similarly talented government intelligence agent who hopes to use her power to forestall a catastrophe in the event of Jago's intended Great Manifestation. While the novel's pace at times lags unnecessarily and its length may eventually try the reader's patience, Newman's writing is vivid and powerful, and the characters are deftly drawn and seamlessly embedded into a riveting story line. One major disappointment is the author's scant characterization of Jago himself, but this is more than made up for by what is surely one of the most eye-grabbing prologues in recent contemporary fiction.
Once again, Newman (The Night Mayor, 1990; Bad Dreams, 1991)in his best effort yetstrives 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 formwho 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 eartha 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 pistoljust 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 andthe corn is as high as an elephant's eye. A shot at the transcendental, with fantasy to splurge.
From the Publisher
"Brilliantly nasty" - Sunday Telegraph
"Newman's prose is sophisticated and his narrative drive irresistible." - Publishers Weekly
"A novel of breathtaking imagination and impact. It propels you at breakneck speed, and just when you think there can be no more surprises, Newman pulls another from the bag." - Starburst