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The Skull

Novel by Shaun Hutson (England) 1982.

Nick Regan is supervising the construction of a luxury hotel near the small village in which he lives, and where his wife Chrissie works at the local museum. After a fortnight of torrential flooding, one of his JCBs plunges down a deep abyss, which, on exploration, contains a labyrinth of tunnels. It also contains a rather large skull, obviously non-human and the possessor of large and powerful teeth. The skull, once in Chrissie's museum lab, comes into contact with human blood and begins to regenerate into a eight-foot monster eager to satisfy its inhuman appetites on the local villagers.

I'm gonna annoy some people here. This is the Hutson novel that the critics avoid like the plague. This is the Hutson novel that Hutson has himself disowned. And this is the Hutson novel that was so popular at the time that only about half a dozen copies were printed. OK, I'm exaggerating, but it was a huge flop. But, even though it was his first published novel (his first written was Deathday, published later) and his least commercial success, it is arguably his most literate early work. The characters are well-written, believable and very true to life, the style is uncluttered and enjoyable, the action is well-paced and the plot, however cliched, progresses logically. It's not his best book, but it's much, much better than most critics would have you believe. It's fun: try it and see.


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