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Through the Dark Curtain

Novel by Peter Saxon (Scotland) 1967.

Second in The Guardians series, this effort by Ross Richards, unfortunately his only novel, is streets ahead of Wilfred McNeilly's opener, Dark Ways to Death (1966).

After running out of petrol in a storm, Mavis Offord waits for her husband to return with help. When he finally does return, however, he finds her in a foetal position literally scared out of her wits. Mavis' father-in-law brings in the Guardians, a group of people dedicated to the fight against supernatural evil in all its forms. They visit rural Norfolk where it all happened, and find Lawrence Stow trying to make Druidism powerful once again. He is reliving the battles between Boudicca's Iceni and their allied tribes against the Roman invaders. Stow, as a major druid of the time, has called the reincarnated souls of the contemporary warriors - from past and future - to the final battle against Suetonius Paulinus' XIVth and XXth legions. His daughter Barbara has taken on the role of the warrior queen and Guardians Steven Kane, Anne Ashby and Father John Dyball (to his horror) have also been summoned, along with a US soldier stationed nearby who is connected to Barbara Stow.

A fascinating and educational concept coupled with a style that is fast-paced and breathtaking, though slow enough to allow some characterisation and attention to detail, sets the scene for another classic 'Peter Saxon' tale almost on a par with Rex Dolphin's masterpiece The Vampires of Finistere. The way in which the story switches between two time periods almost 2,000 years apart is admirable and the historical detail is compelling. The only Saxon story to be filmed was The Disembodied Man, which became a fascinating vehicle for Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price as Scream and Scream Again; and it seems a pity that after one decent Peter Saxon adaptation, it couldn't be followed by Through the Dark Curtain and the aforementioned The Vampires of Finistere, which would also make decent films. Such is life, I suppose.


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