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The Wells of Hell

Novel by Graham Masterton (Scotland) 1981.

In the wonderful Horror: 100 Best Books, Graham Masterton chooses as his favourite horror work The Lurker at the Threshold by Lovecraft and Derleth, one of the minor characters in that book - Misquamacus - also being a major character in Masterton's first novel, The Manitou. But in The Wells of Hell, he pays even higher tribute by writing what is essentially a Cthulhu novel, in spirit if not in name. Mason Perkins, plumber, takes a sample of discoloured water from Jimmy Bodine's well to his friend Dan Kirk at the Health Department. Dan soon discovers that the water is full of two million year old micro-organisms that cause strange side effects if drunk. But the Bodines are already missing, leaving their dead son in a flooded upstairs room, and the legends point toward some hidden purpose - like a beast god imprisoned underground but now readying himself for a return to the world of humans.

From his first novel, The Manitou, in 1975 through to The Heirloom in 1981, Graham Masterton wrote a number of 'occult thrillers': all around 200 pages in length, all dealing with the return of some supernatural evil, and all of consistent quality. By the time he had got The Manitou, The Djinn, The Sphinx, Charnel House, The Devils of D-Day and Revenge of the Manitou under his belt and 1981 had come around, he obviously knew exactly what he was doing, for the last two novels to fall into this category are The Wells of Hell and The Heirloom - his best two books of this period and each classics in their own right. Here, the characters are believable ordinary folk, following strange events in an utterly plausible way, and acting out their parts in a beautifully envisioned concept. Like The Heirloom, one of the crowning achievements of horror fiction.


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