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The Walkers

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1989.

Masterton's early horror novels followed a set formula: some ancient artefact containing the essence of evil in some form is brought into the modern day where it escapes into the world in some way. The artefacts, the methods of escape and the evil itself appear in different forms in different books, but the formula remained constant. In the next noticeable stage of his horror career, Masterton used a different formula: where our hero is forced into doing something very bad indeed, against his better judgement, in order to save one single person. So, in The Pariah, we have a hero setting free a dangerous Aztec demon from his copper prison on the seabed, all to get back his dead wife. In Mirror, our hero has to enable the film Sweet Chariot to be made, thus giving Satan back his physical body, all to save the five year old grandson of his landlord. And in The Walkers, our hero must free 137 violent lunatics from their collective prison, all to get back his son.

One night in 1926, the lunatic asylum known as the Oaks lost all its patients. Their doors remained locked and guarded and no member of staff saw any of them leave, but all 137 lunatics disappeared at the same time. In 1988, Jack Reed discovers the derelict building and wants to turn it into a country club. But he soon finds that the disappeared lunatics are still there, inside the walls, and they have his son. Quintus Miller, the leader of the insane prisoners, wants him to bring to the Oaks the priest who confined them to the premises back in 1926. Otherwise his son will suffer the usual fate reserved for trapped kids in horror novels.

After Mirror tied in the Book of Revelation with Alice Through the Looking Glass, we now get an even stranger mix: ancient Druidic legend combined with The Pied Piper of Hamelin and the song Lavender Blue. Maybe Graham Masterton had some strange childhood experiences with fairy tales and the like! Anyway, another solid read from the prolific master of control.

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