A dedication to H. P. Lovecraft opens Strieber's ( Unholy Fire ) latest tale, paving the way for fantastical and grisly visions. In fact, Strieber borrows liberally from his malignant muse, adapting that author's concept of a monstrous alternate dimension and even giving Lovecraft's ubiquitous whippoorwills a cameo appearance. Not long after physicist Brian Kelly and his pregnant wife hear human screams coming from within a dirt mound, inhabitants of their upstate New York town are attacked by wasp-like fireflies, women transformed into grub-like creatures are dug from the earth and an otherworldly being terrorizes motorists from its Dodge Viper. Brian theorizes that somehow the space-time fabric has been breached, and before long he and a few companions are engaged in a classic battle with an army of ancient demons. Strieber's updates and additions to Lovecraft's original ideas--for instance, the sexual component of gruesome death scenes--provide ample suspense and gore, even if the final battle has few fresh twists. Horror enthusiasts will find his central concept chilling, a primal force beyond human comprehension or control. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (July)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A small town in the Adirondacks becomes a beachhead for an invasion of large, insect-like creatures that first seduce and then sadistically absorb the native population. Brian and Loi Kelly become aware of the unearthly invasion and take the lead in fighting the creatures and warning their neighbors. Brian feels responsible for the death and destruction because his physics research laid the groundwork for the onslaught. This audiobook is a work of graphic and sensationalized (however imaginative) violence bereft of any logical or believable context. Reader Buck Schirner's tendency to overdramatize, especially during the most violent passages, exacerbates the ludicrous text. This is not Strieber's best work. Not recommended.-- Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, Ia.
Modern horror fiction begins with the cosmic paranoia of H. P. Lovecraft, and it's not surprising when a supernatural-thriller writer essays Lovecraftiana. Most do not do so at book length, though, since it's pretty hard to sustain the requisite skin-crawling atmosphere; Lovecraft himself wrote few stories more than 100 pages in length. But Strieber's not most horror writers. He succeeds where others have not tried by cutting the Lovecraftian formula to the chase. In fact, this book is all chase, from the moment physicist Brian Kelly and his pregnant Vietnamese-immigrant wife, Loi, are jolted by the agonized screams they hear emanating from "inside" the Mound, a favored picnic spot outside their New York town, until. . . but it's not fair giving away a good chase's ending. Along the way, friends, neighbors, animals, plants, and even cars are relentlessly pursued and hideously changed by a black, smelly, tentacled entity that paralyzes its victims with a purple light that triggers acute pleasure in them--until the pain starts, and then it's too late. Brian puzzles out where the entity came from, and his deductions accord well with Lovecraft's imaginings. Since Strieber's a speedier writer than Lovecraft--and has had his imagination goosed by advances in gross movie special effects since H. P.'s day--"The Forbidden Zone"'s the best story of its kind since Jack Finney's "Body Snatchers", which was filmed as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Yeah, that good.
Strieber's horror novels often rework classic occult themes (Unholy Fire: possession; The Hunger: vampirism, etc). Now, in an unusually spookyand splatteryoffering, the author updates the monstrous mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, to whom he dedicates the book. The eerie doings pile on quickly, beginning with physicist Brian Kelly hearing screams emanating from a mound in his hometown of Oscola, New York. Years back, Brian's first wife and child died in a fire, and ever since he's been a wreck, abandoning his time- travel experiments and cringing at the screams he still can hearand so Brian wonders whether he's imagining this scream, until his new and pregnant Vietnamese wife, Loi, also hears it. A dig, however, reveals only dirt. But later that night, newspaperwoman Ellen Maas visits the dig and is swarmed by a horde of huge lightning bugs that nearly suffocates her, while Brian, also returning to the mound, is mesmerized by purple lights that crackle with sexual energy. The next day, screaming is heard at another site, and this time digging reveals the corpse of a woman, every bone in her body pulverizedbut her left eye still glimmering with evil intent. Ellen and Brian team up to investigate, evoking Loi's jealousybut when the menace fully reveals itself in the form of further animate corpses bursting open to loose further swarms of lightning bugs, the corpses then mutating into gigantic tentacled creatures that ferociously shred the town and its inhabitantsit's Loi who leads the fight. But can she combat this superintelligent creature, freed from a parallel universe by Brian's old experiments, before it destroys heras well as her baby,squirming to be born? Genuinely scary, with plenty of scattered body parts for gorehoundsbut subtle it is not, and the Providence recluse was scarier still, by saying less and implying far more.