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BOOK
Edgewise

Author: Graham Masterton
Severn House
RRP: 9.99, US $14.95
ISBN: 978 0 7278 9186 0
Available 27 August 2007


After winning the custody of her two young children from her ex-husband, Lily Blake is assaulted in the middle of the night and narrowly escapes being burnt alive. Her children are kidnapped and, when the FBI fail to find them, turns to John Shooks, a shady Native American Private Investigator. He in turn takes her to George Iron Walker, a Sioux shaman, who summons up a hunter forest spirit called a Wendigo. For payment he demands a piece of land sacred to the Mdewakanton Sioux, which the company Lily works for is selling for development. Too late, she discovers that the Wendigo is effectively cannibalistic and kills her ex-husband. She tries to call the deal off, but once the spirit is set on its path it can't be stopped. When she fails to secure the piece of land too, the Wendigo begins to attack everyone close to her. With no other choice, Lily is forced to go on the offensive, but the Wendigo exists in only two dimensions, so it can turn edgewise and seem to disappear...

Graham Masterton is a prolific writer of thrillers, short stories, historical fiction and even non-fiction (allegedly!) sex manuals, but is best known for his horror fiction - and with some justification. I have been an enthusiastic follower of his work in this genre since the heady days of The Manitou (his first offering in this field) which was published to great acclaim in 1976 (I have the Star paperback from 1977) and hit the bestsellers list. Since that time Masterton has authored a veritable plethora of high-quality horror tales. His foremost skill, I believe, is the enviable ability to take a legend with supernatural qualities and place it in a modern and believable setting so that the whole feels entirely convincing. Unlike Stephen King, who can bore the pants off you with pages of pointless descriptive passages, Masterton utilises vivid metaphors so that you can picture exactly what he means in one or two sentences.

With Edgewise, Graham Masterton returns to familiar territory with the use of Red Indian (or Native American) spirits and human guides (or Shamen) both good and bad. There are some similarities to the aforementioned The Manitou, with a vengeful spirit and an even more powerful entity waiting to enter from the sidelines and take its revenge on the white man for betrayals and so many deaths. However, this is an individual tale in its own right which motors along at a cracking pace, with characters which rise from the page with a life of their own. There's only one other writer I've come across who can consistently conjure relatable players in this way, and that is Raymond E. Feist. This book also benefits from at least two false endings, so there is no fizzling out at the conclusion.

A new paperback division of Severn House is welcome indeed. With many of Masterton's books in recent years appearing in hardback format for library distribution only, people such as myself, who like to own each title for their collection, have found it difficult to locate a copy outside of the publisher or major outlet. I long for a return to the days when I can walk in to any good book shop and simply pick-up one of his new books. Manitou Blood and the latest Night Warriors book were exceptions. Perhaps this new trade paperback division from Severn is the result of public opinion.

In short, a highly enjoyable read (if a little over-priced), with a comfortable writing style and edgy plot. Graham Masterton has come home (no, he really has; he's returned to live in Britain!).

Ty Power

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