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Flesh and Blood

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1994.

Graham Masterton's fifth novel for Mandarin, thankfully free of the proofing errors that plagued The Sleepless, is yet another example of the ease with which he churns out superb novel after superb novel. Again mixing two themes, here we have the ancient folk tale of the Green Man twisted in with a treatment of the modern moral questions surrounding the use of animals in laboratories.

Terence Pearson takes his three beloved children into the countryside and calmly beheads them to save them from their 'bad blood'. One escapes, only to be changed by the incident. It seems that Pearson is a descendant of Janek the Green, the half-man half-tree embodiment of fertility. Appearing in drought-ravaged countryside, Janek visits fertility on a family in return for one night with the wife of the household. Years later, he returns to replenish himself by eating his progeny's guts. Meanwhile, at the Spellman Institute of Genetics, human synapses have been transplanted into Captain Black, a research pig the size of a small car. But the donor was one of Pearson's children, whose 'bad blood' is something the researchers know nothing about.

Well established as a horror novelist of some repute, Graham Masterton works his own formula, varying it every now and then, so his plot structures don't get stale. From Flesh and Blood through Spirit and into The House that Jack Built, he takes two vastly different themes and works them into one cohesive whole. And this far into his career, he can give us passages of great power, horrifying us or disgusting us or making our heart strings pull, whichever takes his fancy at any particular time. Consistently writing four to five hundred page novels that hook the reader like a fish on a line, his prose is almost liquid, his plots seamless and his characters are people we care about. And he does it seemingly without trying. Incredible.


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