Post by dreadlocksmile on Jun 20, 2009 16:00:33 GMT
First published back in 1980, John Halkin's pulp horror novel `Slither' was the first book in the `Slither-Slime-Squelch' creepy-crawly series. The novel was released at a time when pulp horror novels depicting graphic gore and violence (to be later categorised as splatterpunk) was at its hey-day. This was mostly due to the unprecedented success of James Herbert's groundbreaking classic splatterpunk 1974 novel `The Rats'.
The novel begins in the dank sewers of London, where thirty-six year old, TV film cameraman Matt Parker is filming a TV documentary about urban growth through the centuries. Whilst left on his own for a short period, Parker is attacked by a swarm of limbless newt like creatures later referred to as the `worms'.
Hungry for human flesh and with a taste for blood, these bizarre creatures swarm on their victims, ripping into their flesh with razor sharp teeth. Parker survives the ordeal, but is left severely disfigured.
The media go crazy over the notion of these seemingly mutant worms, actually attacking a fit and strong human being. Soon enough though the media hype draws to an end and as such the worms are dismissed as no more of a menace than ferrets.
After his near death experience with the worms, Parker has no intention of simply dismissing the creatures that left him disfigured. One way or another, he was going to prove to the world the danger these worms posed.
In a quaint little village within Middlehampton the first of the carnivorous worms begin to strike once again. By now the worms have grown not only in size but in their numbers. Nowhere where there is water is safe anymore, as they swarm out of ponds, swimming pools and down bath pipes. The British population now faces a new and truly horrifying enemy...the worms.
Bursting with gruesome deaths throughout, John Halkin's debut novel `Slither' packs in a vast array of graphic deaths at the hands of these bizarre and imaginative invertebrates. Halkin surprising never really defines exactly what these carnivorous vermillion limbless newts are. One almost gets the impression that Halkin planned to have the deadly creatures as either newts or worms and the publishers persuaded him otherwise, meeting somewhere in between by way of a somewhat confusing compromise. This does nothing to weaken the plot however, and if anything adds a darker air of mystery to their ambiguous roots.
The tale's principal character Matt Parker is a well developed and easily identified with character whose frustrating mission easily draws sympathy from the reader. Once the `worms' attack again, this time in greater numbers and on a more recurring and greater scale, the novel quickly takes off into an all out splatterpunk fest. Halkin's imaginative deaths and building tension in the face of such a preposterous enemy to mankind, is nothing short of commendable.
The `worms' display a surprising intelligence that adds another level of fear to the storyline. The novel reads like Shaun Hutson's 1982 novel `Slugs' but with the attacking creatures displaying a higher level of cunning. Indeed, as the novel progresses, the `worms' appear to take on roles in a similar way to that of ants, with their `workers', `soldiers' and of course the most deadly of them all - the queen worm.
Ending with a nail biting and action packed finale, Halkin manages to keep the pace racing from when the worms launch their all out attack on the community of Middlehampton until the books final conclusion. Unfortunately, the first few chapters of the novel (forming perhaps the first third of the book) are somewhat of a slower pace, setting down the scene and carefully building up the tension before the inevitable lager scale attack takes place.
The worm like creatures are an interesting and novel idea for the enemy, although the concept and general plot is now so over saturated from the sheer abundance of similar pulp horror novels that flooded the market during the 80's. That said, `Slither' is a thoroughly enjoyable read with many twists and turns to the storyline that you can't help but get immersed in Halkin's new epidemic.
The novel runs for a total of 215 pages and was first published by Hamlyn Paperbacks.