Twenty-five centuries after its entrance was sealed, an ancient tomb in the fearsome Valley of the Jinn has been uncovered by an earthquake. Soon afterwards a nearby graveyard is desecrated, and horribly mauled bodies are found. The mutilation is assumed to be the work of wild beasts, and no one dreams that the archaeologists opening the tomb are moving into terrible danger.
Lurking in the maze of tunnels and caves is a foul creature whose evil has survived for thousands of years, its age-old hunger newly awakened. Only a legendary piece of treasure has the power to protect against... THE GHOUL
"What a setting this would make for a Fry's Turkish Delight commercial ....."
Not the most gratuitously nasty novel they published by any means, but for all that, another winning 200 page pulp romp from the mighty house of Hamlyn, the 'eighties NEL! This one's more convoluted than most and it's extremely unlikely my clueless attempt at a 'synopsis' will make any kind of sense whatsoever, so best ignore it and track down a copy of the book!
Julia Sword, archaeologist extraordinaire, has used her feminine wiles to persuade ultra-liberal, generosity-is-my-middle-name King Hamid of Abu Sabbah to sponsor her dig at the tomb of Horeniheb and chip in with all kind of assistance - manpower, equipment, banquets at his palace, belly-dancers, lifts for her dear old dad, Max (all this while he's doing his level best to avoid assassination by his evil uncle, Sheikh Ahmid! Would that he'd fund one of Vault's lunatic projects!). King Hamid ain't as silly as it first appears, though. He knows Julia is on top of her game and in less time than it takes to tell, albeit after the somewhat fortuitous intervention of an earthquake, she stands on the verge of what may prove to be the biggest mummy treasure find since the days of Howard Carter and King Tut! His Excellency is delighted for her and, perhaps, more-so, himself ("I'm in there!") but then along trundles Adam McAndrew, a skint, would-be documentary maker whose last job involved directing a commercial for toilet paper. McAndrew charms his way into the party and, eventually, Julia, too. Surely King Hamid is gonna go in for some good old ritual torture now! But ... no! He's such a magnanimous fellow he doesn't mind a bit and we'll have to look elsewhere for our sick pleasures! To his credit, Adam proves to be a resourceful fellow when it all kicks off with the ghoul, but you can't help but feel a little disappointed.
Sonny more than makes up for all this niceness. Sonny is a Magick-obsessed, ageing hippy speed-freak who has 'LIVE' and 'EVIL' tattooed on his chest and fancies himself the new Charles Manson. Somehow he's gathered about him a commune of three young runaways - Berlin ice queen Inga, permanently stoned Rosa and the enigmatic Wanda, supposedly a bit on the simple side but blessed of natural occult gifts. A virgin, Wanda is blissfully unaware that Sonny intends to rape and human sacrifice her in the tomb in order to experience 'The Power'. Anyhow, this crew are encamped in the caves of the Valley of Jinn and forever spouting scary mumbo jumbo while bothering the archaeologists for a peek into the tomb. A fourth member, inoffensive Danish peacenik Jorgen, briefly joined them at the same time as Inga but that was just so he could argue with Sonny and wind up as ghoul-food, something he graciously accomplishes by the close of chapter two.
Also flitting in and out of the story are Moshe Leor of Israeli intelligence and the mysterious Arab spy Leliah who wears a veil, likes T. Rex and may be behind all the recent attempts on his life. She swears otherwise and they enjoy a passionate dalliance but ... will he ever be able to trust her? With Sheikh Ahmid goon squad on his trail now is not a good time for Moshe to get romantically involved with anyone, least of all a pro-Palestinian who might be trying to set him up. The Sheikh's boys don't mess about, you know. Electrodes applied to the testicles, that kind of caper. Best make sure he doesn't let them take him captive, then ...
So: entrail-devouring monsters, long haired occult weirdies, human sacrifice, international terrorism. Ronson skillfully brings these plot-lines together for the gripping latter stages of the novel and those who've survived thus far find themselves trapped in the labyrinthine tunnels at the mercy of the insatiable GHOUL!
After attempting, and failing abysmally, to make a decent start on Mammoth Best New Horror #17, it's barnstorming thrill reads like this restore my faith in horror lit!
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.
Post by doomovertheworld on Mar 4, 2016 7:52:48 GMT
I would agree that it needed more ghoul action. At times it felt more like an adventure book than a horror one. However, saying that i was never bored with it. The ending felt rather abrupt and was setting it up for a sequel (which to the best of my knowledge never arrived). The cover art is awesome though.