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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Novels come and novels go. Some are good, some not so good. But once in a blue moon, you'll stumble upon a work of fiction that's great. Great fiction melds reality with fantasy with no seams showing. And Doug Clegg's The Halloween Man starts out in a scenario that could arise straight from today's newspapers. Psycho-religious cults and psycho religion. Psycho teenagers and psycho crimes. And psychos abducting kids. In Clegg's very heavy opening, we've got a seemingly chain-smoking dirtball named Stony Crawford kidnapping a 12-year-old boy from a Branch Davidian-ish cult of Texas wackos called the Rapturists. At once, the reader is at odds with his/her initial perceptions. What's going on here? Is Stony just a run-of-the-mill freakjob kid-snatcher, or is there a more deliberate purpose to this abduction?
And what the hell is locked up in his glove compartment?
Here, all the makings of a mainstream thriller get twisted into something much more as Clegg stokes the creative furnace to develop a novel of monumental scope, part horror, part psychological drama, part gothic, with trimmings that include tragic rites of passage, lost love, and violent sociopathies. What Clegg has done here is produce a paramount work so ingeniously rich, dark, and intricate that, in my own ten-novel career, I can scarcely believe it. I'm even jealous. This is the hardest kind of book to pull off, but Clegg does it effortlessly and to maximum effect. This is a big novel composed of multiple concepts, characters, and viewpoints, a story told by stories within stories, secretswithinsecrets, myths built upon more myths, one whose horrors unfold as shadows within shadows.
But before I go on, let me tell you a bit about the author. Douglas Clegg has for years proved himself one of the masters of the supernatural thriller, sharpening his craft with such preeminent short stories as "White Chapel" (from Love in Vein) and "O Rare and Most Exquisite" (from the British anthology Lethal Kisses), as well as his a number of successful novels, including Goat Dance, The Children's Hour, and, under his Andrew Harper pseudonym, Bad Karma. Bad Karma, landing on several bestseller lists, brought him a wide audience for his mainstream thrillers. But now, with this, Clegg returns to the all-out novel of terror, and the effort instantly drop-kicks the reader into a harrowing nightmare.
The story moves on, like peeling back layers of an onion, as Clegg takes us back to the origin of Stony's madness — his childhood. Beginning with his birth in the New England coastal village of Stonehaven, Stony Crawford has always been in the eye of a mystery that he can't decipher. When he's 15, and falls in love with Lourdes Maria Castillo, he thinks his life is just beginning. But just as love hits him, so do the responsibilities of adulthood. Lourdes is pregnant, and now they must make some tough decisions. Meanwhile, there's the dark and brooding presence of the Crown mansion. This is a summer home for one of America's wealthier families, a dynasty built on war and exploitation that can trace its ancestry nearly as far back as royal families do. At the center of the Crowns is young Diana, a 20-something beauty who has a reason for seducing Stony's older brother, Van. Van is a prime bad guy, a temperamental nasty teenager who is subdued and controlled by Diana. Like her namesake goddess, Diana rides and hunts in the nearby woods, corrupting Van as she teaches him a love for blood sports.
When the sport becomes human, Van is too mired in his own prison of lust and nightmare. In between we meet a man named Alan Fairclough, a rich antiphilosopher/de Sade-esque human monster, tracing mythic lore for a diabolical end. Fairclough makes the doctor in "Hellraiser II" look like Mr. Rogers — he orders up children for his debaucheries "like ordering groceries." Fairclough has spent his life searching for an ecstatic religious experience...and now he's discovered one.
See, there's something else going on at the Crown place. Inside the mansion, there's a chapel made of stone, but no cross hangs over its altar. The Crowns are keeping some creature trapped in a metal coffin, a creature that might be an angel or a demon. Stony's friend, the blind woman Nora Chance, tells him old stories of Stonehaven, of the night the Halloween Man, a bogeyman from the 17th century, rose from his grave to take revenge upon an entire village. As Halloween night approaches, Stony feels a darkness settling over the cursed town.
Intricate enough yet? Soon Stony gets to face the heart of this evil mystery, and the story soars as we come to understand why the adult Stony would kidnap this little boy and bring him to this desolate place...
Combining both the quiet horror of a Charles Grant with the all-out spectacles of a Stephen King, Clegg's storytelling has never been better. The Halloween Man is a brilliant novel, up there with the best of Straub, King, and Koontz, and one of the most original tales of terror to come along in quite a while. Don't miss it!
— Edward Lee, barnesandnoble.com