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Demogorgon

Novel by Brian Lumley (England) 1987.

1936 and a mysterious but powerful old man named George Guigos emerges out of the desert around the Sea of Galilee near Meggido. He then uncovers and descends into a pit in the ruined village of Chorazin. He has enticed three hirelings with promises of treasure, but for two, their reward turns out to be their incorporation into Guigos' body, for Guigos is in fact the Anti-Christ who needs to absorb three people in this forbidden place every once in a while to renew his immortality. The third, one Dimitrios Kastrouni, on guard duty, fails to be back at the pit by midnight, thus forcing Guigos to absorb one of the donkeys instead. Kastrouni escapes, to be hounded by Guigos, now named Khumeni, through many years. Back in the present and Kastrouni travels to London to warn Charlie Trace, a small-time thief, that he is in fact the bastard son of the Anti-Christ, who is even now trying to abduct him to Chorazin to enact the ritual again. Trace falls in with those fighting Khumeni to save himself and the rest of the world.

Another fiendishly complicated Brian Lumley plot, but one which is, at least, pure horror for a change. For those wondering who or what the Demogorgon of the title actually is, will have to read the book and work that out for themselves. The definitions at the beginning of the book describe Demogorgon as a mysterious infernal deity, also as the Gnostic creator; but in the text it is described as the seed of Satan, literally his reproductive power, and also it is invoked by Guigos/Khumeni to rain lightning down on his enemies. Plotwise, there are similarities here to The Omen books: both are essentially a quest to destroy the Anti-Christ on Earth by a supposed relative, and there is mention in both of places like Meggido; but all similarities end there. The Anti-Christ in The Omen, Damien Thorn, is a handsome young man straight out of an American mini-series; in Demogorgon it is a hideous amalgam, half-beast and half-man. Also Lumley's sheer story-telling talent stands in direct contrast to the way in which The Omen series was constructed. And though Lumley is prone to sequels and even tortuous interconnections between series, this book is a one-off and won't be lessened like The Omen by further dabbling.

Aside from writing weird fiction, Brian Lumley is a frequent visitor to the Mediterranean and tends to include much of his favourite geography in his work. Good examples crop up in later Necroscope books as well as in short stories like The Sun, the Sea and the Silent Scream or No Sharks in the Med. There's plenty of tourist information here too, to the extent that this sometimes seems almost like a guide book to Cyprus, Rhodes and especially Karpathos, but thankfully it doesn't intrude on the plot like the almost gazetteer-like lists in M. P. Shiel's weird classic The Purple Cloud. I'm pretty sure that many journalists, critics and reviewers are waiting sadistically for Brian Lumley to write a bad novel, so that instead of ignoring him, they can crucify him instead. I'm glad that he hasn't yet given them the pleasure.


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