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The Dark One

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1995.

Rankin Gorlay and his wife Carol are a middle-class family who practice wifeswapping with the Harts, a working-class family from the local estate. When the Harts take a long awaited holiday, they leave their delinquent son Marcel with the Gorlays for a week. But everywhere Rankin and Carol take Marcel, death and destruction follow in their wake. Gradually they realise that it isn't all coincidence, and that somehow Marcel is causing these deaths. And with satanic abuse rumoured in the town, Rankin and Carol are not too surprised to find a human skull in Marcel's suitcase and a cabalistic circle chalked on the floor. But just how much power does he hold over them?

The working title for this was Satan's Spawn, which is a better name for Guy Smith's second US-only book for Zebra. Not in the same class as its predecessor, Witch Spell, nevertheless this does have its moments. Written very much in the traditional Smith style (this couldn't be mistaken for anyone else), there is a surprising total lack of sex for a novel dealing with naked rituals and wifeswapping. The violent horror is present of course, but most of the book is taken up by the growing tension in the Gorlay household, which is handled adroitly. The main flaw is the concentration on just three characters (Rankin, Carol and Marcel) to the exclusion of everyone else, including Cathy and Glenn, the Gorlay's children, who should have had a far more important role. And there's nothing about Marcel's parents who apparently made him what he became. Some missed opportunities, but in the end, this is once again worth the time and money.


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