Purity: Deluxe Lettered Edition


From Douglas Clegg, author of YOU COME WHEN I CALL YOU and the Bram Stoker Award-winner, THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES, comes his first novella, PURITY, in a signed, special edition hardcover from Cemetery Dance Publication. This is a tale as experimental as it is suspenseful, in which love, darkness, and the human imagination clash on a small New England island -- in a coming-of-age tale like no other.

In PURITY, the darkest force is love.

Owen ...

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From Douglas Clegg, author of YOU COME WHEN I CALL YOU and the Bram Stoker Award-winner, THE NIGHTMARE CHRONICLES, comes his first novella, PURITY, in a signed, special edition hardcover from Cemetery Dance Publication. This is a tale as experimental as it is suspenseful, in which love, darkness, and the human imagination clash on a small New England island -- in a coming-of-age tale like no other.

In PURITY, the darkest force is love.

Owen Crites has watched Jenna Montgomery flower into a beautiful young woman as they've practically grown up together through the summers; Owen is the gardener's son who will one day become groundskeeper of the Montgomery summer estate on Outerbridge Island.

Now, when they both reach adolescence, Owen begins to understand that Jenna is meant for a different life in adulthood than he is destined for -- and he knows that he must somehow keep her on the Island until she no longer wants to leave.

Enter Jimmy McTeague, the young tennis star from Manhattan, heir to a sporting goods fortune, who has also come to spend the summer with the Montgomery's -- and soon, a triangle of love, hate, and the darkest of human impulses emerges.

This is Clegg's first published novella, part of the novella series from Cemetery Dance Publications.

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Editorial Reviews

'Publishers Weekly
Publisher's Weekly review


Douglas Clegg

Clegg (You Come When I Call You) turns the screws dexterously in this sleek, multifaceted suspense story, twisting an ill-fated love triangle into a framework for violent tragedy. Owen Crites, teenage son of a gardener to the rich on Outerbridge Island, pines for debutante Jenna Montgomery, a childhood sweetheart who comes to stay each summer with her parents. Devastated when Jenna arrives the summer of their 18th year with preppie tennis star Jimmy McTeague in tow, Owen schemes to win her back by seducing his sexually conflicted rival -- and then presenting himself as the waylaid victim to Jenna. Ensuing events, though surprising, flow ineluctably from the behavior of Clegg's deftly sketched characters. Owen is intriguingly complex: sympathetic in his insecurity and social naivete, but creepy in his obsessive idolatry of a primitive god appropriated from pulp horror stories. Jimmy, Jenna and even Jenna's love-starved mother, whose exchanges with Owen smolder with sexual tension, all have private moments in which they reveal unspoken, potentially volatile discontent with their lives. Clegg brings them together in a vacation paradise saturated with alcohol, entitlement and hypocrisy, from which a fall seems inevitable. With uncommon finesse, he beguiles the reader into believing that the destinies carved for his doomed modern souls by social caste and economic privilege differ little from the inescapable fates ordained in classic tragedy.

FYI Clegg won an International Horror Guild Award for his short-fiction collection, The Nightmare Chronicles at the World Horror Convention in May.

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781881475729
  • Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999

First Chapter

An Excerpt from Purity

Prologue: why I called you here


There is no madness but the madness of the gods.

There is no purity but the purity of love.


Someone once wrote that “the most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate its contents.”

This describes my feelings perfectly. I correlate too much of my own mind’s contents. It’s always troubling.

I don’t live in the chronological moment; I doubt you do, either. I live all at once in the past with only glimpses of the present. I live mostly on that island, when it comes to me, when I think of my life as it formed.

I live in darkness now, but the dark brings the memories back.

The dark brings it all back.

The dark is all I know.

I call the dark

It’s there that I find the god I met one day when I was just a child. I remember that day; not the days of blood to come.

In the end, we were together.

In the beginning, we were not.


Here are the words I will never forget:

“Owen, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I should never have come this summer.”

Before that, the gun went off.

Before that, I looked into her eyes.

Before that is when it all began.

Dagon, bring it back to me.

Chapter One: Who I Am


These are the things I know:

Outerbridge Island has briny water running beneath its rocks, a subterranean series of narrow channels between the Sound and the Atlantic. You can see the entrances to these channels on the northern side of the island at low tide. These channels feed into the Great Salt Pond on the westerly side of the island before it empties into the sea. It was said that once-upon-a-time, a Dutch trading ship smashed up against the rocks, and local pirates fed upon the treasures found within the hold of ship. The treasure, it is said, was buried in the narrow caverns. To add to the chill of this tale, it was also said that the pirates fed upon the flesh of the survivors of the wreck for days.

I’ve actually swum into the caverns at times. I’m slender enough, and in good enough shape to maneuver in the darkness of the water, but I never found treasure, nor did I emerge in the Great Salt Pond by following the channels within that part of the island. I needed air, after all.

If you want something badly enough, there are ways to get it.

This doesn’t mean that they are traditional means. It doesn’t mean that pain is not involved. It doesn’t mean that the cost may overwhelm the need. It just means there are ways to get what you really want in this world.

If one has a conscience, one can be driven mad. Therefore, a conscience is a key to madness. Everyone is a potential madman. Everyone. The sweetest boy in the world can be driven to the most irrational of acts. The girl who has the world at her feet, likewise, could be driven to some act of desperation and tragedy.

And, in many ways, we want the irrational and the tragic and the desperate, because they bring meaning and life back into our existences.

Another fact: My mother prizes three things above all others:

The rose garden which my father planted for her before I was born. It runs in spirals along the bluffs and the small hillock behind our cottage. There are fourteen varieties of roses, with hues ranging from pale peach to blood red.

Her koi pond, which is really the Montgomery’s koi pond, but it sits on our side of the property. It is largish for a pond, and narrow, nearly a reflecting pool. It was built deep for the harsh winters – the koi can survive a thick layer of ice as long as they can bury themselves down in the silt. My father covers the pool with a plastic tarp to further protect the fish.

And lastly, my mother prizes the gun.

My maternal grandfather had a small pistol that had been given to him by his mother. It was small Colt pistol – what my grandfather called a vest pistol, but which I thought of as a Saturday Night Special. It had mother-of-pearl grips, and a clip that could not be removed from it. My grandfather had given my mother the pistol in the early years of her marriage for when my father would beat her. My father never beat my mother, but my grandfather would apparently not believe it. The pistol is useless, I heard my mother once say. Never been fired. I could barely shoot a cat with it, she joked. Someday, she told me, when she was weepy and bitter about life, she would go to Boston and sell it to a collector and take the money and go far, far away. When I first discovered my true god and his nature, I took the pistol.

Final fact:

Faith plays into all this. One must have faith that one can do what one sets out to do. One must have the courage of one’s convictions. All the world’s history teaches us this.

For me, it is that god I discovered.

I call it Dagon, although its name is unknown to me. It came from the sea, and I held it captive, briefly. I am its priest.

And Dagon, in a twisted and true way, upholds what I stand for.

One must stand for something.

For me, it is the force of love.

The undertow of love.

But that sounds romantic, and I’m not a romantic at all.

I’ve been called a lot of things since the day I was born; never romantic.

Schemer. Athlete. Brain. Manipulator. User. Common. Handsome. Shallow. Arrogant. Mad. Sociopath. Cold eyes.

All by my mother.

Jenna Montgomery once told me I had the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen on a boy.

I had to catch my breath when she told me that. Copyright 2000 Douglas Clegg

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    MoonCalf, Come Here!!

    A twisted little short story. Everything takes place during a brief summer vacation. Love traingle, which brings upon unprecedented mayhem. A good spine tingler to read.

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