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Demonstrand

Novel by Robert Alexander 1982.

Edward Scillary's father was the former manager of the tin mine known as the Snake Pit in the village of Tremaryon, Cornwall, up until the time it was closed. Now grown up, Scillary returns to Tremaryon, as it will prove a quiet place to work as a writer. Or so he thinks. Edward visits Lord Peter Melton, his childhood best friend, and finds that the Melton family seem to be suffering from a curse. Peter's son Andrew is writing the family history and this begins to interest Edward, as it seems that the original Lord Melton, who opened the mine, employed slave labour from his plantation in Jamaica, and when one of the slaves allegedly raped his wife, he walled them up alive in the mine. Now Edward is seeing visions of what really happened, and descendants of Melton's helpers are being murdered, and the events seem to be coming to a head.

Alexander's first novel, The Soul Eater, was a good and solid, if not particularly original, book; and this is similar in a lot of ways, but it has far more in the way of originality. There are surprisingly few horror novels about voodoo (there are far more films), but this is a particularly good one. The characterisation is good, if sometimes a little predictable (the love interest, Alison Meredith, is a bit of a cliche, and Scillary seems a little too similar to the 'hero' of the book's predecessor, Michael Read). The style is as easy-going as The Soul Eater, though it's not as light a read as that book, but it never descends to the American ideal of 'easy to read type with no big words'. And the plot is solid and fascinating; the destructive final´┐Ż is particularly effective. It just makes you wish that Alexander had written more than just two books.


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