When Chris and Ruth Stainforth move to a pleasant coastal village to start a new life with their six-year-old son, David, it seems like a dream come true. Or so they think. But they have no way of knowing that the village was once a sacred site for the old religion. And that the old God is not dead ‑ just waiting.
Already its Power stirs, changing supernaturally what it touches. It ought to herald the dawn of an age of miracles. But when the Power arouses the sleeping horror-cargo of a ship that sank thirty years ago, the magic is tainted. And Chris, Ruth and David find themselves right in the path of a living-dead nightmare made all too murderously real ...
NAILED BY THE HEART is the supercharged novel of relentless occult menace by one of the most powerful new talents on today's horror fiction scene.
Simon Clark's debut if i'm not much mistaken, and it says a lot for him that i breezed through a 360-pager with nary a scowl even if i didn't really go for the ending. Fortunately, the blurb is fairly detailed as my risible literary powers are at an even lower ebb than ever, but the gist of it is this.
The Stainforths have moved to the coastal village of Out-Butterwick to renovate the ancient Sea Fort at Manshead and convert it into a hotel. The villagers are a friendly if slightly eccentric bunch but standoffish on matters pertaining to the Sea Fort and to Chris Stainforth its glaringly apparent that his ambitious plans for the place are not the least appreciated. A huge American, Mark Faust, former merchant seaman, is most notably hostile, but then he is the sole survivor of The Mary Rose, boarded by a gang of sadistic mercenaries, the Saf Dar, who murdered and/ or blinded his crew-mates. Mark managed to sink the ship but three decades on the Sal Dar have returned - in the form of a bunch of animated, blood-lusting Easter Island statue look-a-likes. The return of the Old God is imminent and if the Saf Dar can lay claim to his power then no army in the world would be a match for them. The Stainforths find themselves trapped inside the fort with the villagers, all of them at the mercy of the Saf Dar and their dispensable corpse-slaves - the undead drowned of thirty years. There seems only one way out - for Chris to placate the God by sacrificing that which he holds dearest to him, and the villagers are nothing if not encouraging ....
If this all sounds like John Carpenter's The Fog with a sprinkling of The Wicker Man, you're at least halfway there, but Clark brings plenty all of his own to the table and the whole makes for a refreshingly ramshackle, sporadically gory horror pulp. The barnacle-encrusted Saf Dar steal every scene they appear in merely by standing still, but a senile old Major who comes good, a Gin-sodden Reverend who doesn't, a zombie goldfish and a stick of celery out of some sweating GM crop induced nightmare - Nailed By The Heart has got the lot.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.