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Burial

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1992.

Misquamacus is back and this time he's brought a really big stick. After The Heirloom, Masterton added 150 pages to the length of his horror novels. After Prey, he did it again. Featuring a suitably deep concept to carry the length, Burial reaches a page count of over five hundred. And it is possibly the most fitting book to try such an experiment on, being the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Manitou, the book that made him famous. But whereas The Manitou was a short, lively, manically paced pulp read, and Revenge of the Manitou followed suit, Burial is a controlled burst of apocalyptic terror that leaves it almost apart from its two predecessors.

When Naomi Greenberg's furniture moves inexplicably across the room in true Poltergeist fashion, our favourite fake clairvoyant Harry Erskine is called in to investigate. But once again, Harry finds himself well out of his depth, facing not just his nemesis Misquamacus but the Indian god of the underworld as well: Aktunowihio the shadow buffalo. The old wonder worker is trying to take back the lands stolen from the Indians, by systematically removing any trace of white habitation on the continent, and returning the land to the way it was before colonisation. To achieve this he made a deal with Dr Hambone, a great voodoo priest, which would leave the land inhabited by only men with red or black skin. The cities are already falling and only Harry Erskine seems to be able to stop the process.

There are many novels detailing apocalyptic fights between good and evil, but most are painted on a small canvas. This is different: we see Chicago levelled, Manhattan mostly destroyed, and Las Vegas, Phoenix and other smaller towns following suit. The death count is impressively high: this time Misquamacus has organised himself properly. The build-up is magnificent and the finale well executed, but in reinventing his own creation, Masterton either slips up or ignores a couple of details: for instance, the sensitive Amelia who gets killed in The Manitou is very much alive and playing a major role in Burial. Not quite perfect, but an impressive success for such an ambitious work.


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