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Next, After Lucifer

Novel by Daniel Rhodes 1987.

Next, after Lucifer is Lord Belial, a demon worshipped by the heretic Knight Templar Guilhem de Courdeval, banished by his Order for devil worship and sorcery to a remote fortress in the south of France. Legend has it that de Courdeval was able to summon up a demon to assist in various of his bloody deeds. As this demon had even killed a priest inside the supposedly safe walls of his cathedral, de Courdeval was then disposed of by the Holy Inquisition using a ritual older even than the Christian Church. He was burned at the stake, his bones submerged in a local stream that was consequently dammed and sealed. Everything is quiet for centuries until Professor John McTell rents a villa nearby. The area is suffering a drought and water for his pool is hard to find: a local inadvertantly divines the very water in which de Courdeval was buried. From then on his spirit seems to be everpresent, and when McTell discovers de Courdeval's grimoire, he becomes a pilgrim unknowingly following the same path as the man who has come to obsess him so.

Though both book and author are little-known, this is a top notch supernatural horror novel, and its author (Neil McMahon is the man hiding behind the pseudonym) is an extremely talented wordsmith. Inside the cover, there is a compliment from Graham Masterton describing 'Rhodes' as "a distinct new voice in horror. He speaks in a chilling and elegant whisper." In fact, the voice is possibly nearer to Masterton than anyone else; and he uses a common Masterton plot device for this book - bringing some ancient artifact (in this case the grimoire) into the modern day where it instigates some sort of supernatural horror. The plot mixes ancient with modern in a believable and fluid manner, and the characters spring to life, all in a similar way to a Masterton novel. Highly recommended, much more so than its only sequel, Adversary (1989).


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