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The Village of Fear

Novel by Martin Jenson 1974.

An odd little puppy, this. Like Bill Garnett's The Shadow and The Disorientated Man by 'Peter Saxon', this really is something completely different. In a story whose entire plot is given away very early indeed we follow the exploits of the Revd Austin Trench, Vicar of Wellesford for 23 years. He is convinced that the people of his village are descending the slopes of depravity at a rapid pace and that he is the only person who can save them from themselves. His methods however are not those of the common or garden reverend, not even the fire and brimstone preacher. Instead try the urban terrorist.

Martin Jenson came out of nowhere with a sprinkling of short horror novels for New English Library. He has a voice that is both wordly and restrained, and his prose makes for an entertaining read; his characters are well defined and lively; and his plots are far from ordinary. What lets The Village of Fear down is merely its length. At the old NEL-decreed page count of a hundred and twenty odd pages there is little scope for depth, even with a sparsely populated cast of characters. As a quick original read this is ideal, as the base for something more substantial it would be easily adequate, but as a stand alone novel it could have done with more flesh on its bones. Recommended for those who don't believe there's anything different to be said in horror.


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