Richard Eden holds on to the past with a treasured photograph.
He was one of four boys and a girl, inseparable friends from
Newcastle who called themselves the Byker Chapter. When the
images on the photograph begin to fade one by one, he realises
something from their past is taking out the Byker Chapter
in particularly gristly fashion...
Laws is an established writer of horror fiction whose books
include, Ghost Train, Darkfall, The Wyrm,
Somewhere South of Midnight, The Frighteners,
and my particular favourite, Daemonic.
I first read this book upon its original publication, I hadn't
heard of the Byker district of Newcastle. Since then, of course,
the Grange Hill-like Byker Grove has well and
truly placed the changed region on the map. Having grown up
in the area Stephen Laws writes comfortably in the setting,
although by his own admission, whatever landmarks he writes
about they seem to demolish shortly afterward. There is a
nice build-up of tension in what amounts to a Ten Little
Indians scenario, at least early on. The characters are
well-realised, their fears and insecurities feeling natural
in this instance.
many books, the problem with so many good ideas is that two-thirds
of the manuscript builds mystery and expectation which the
last third can't satisfy. In other words, when the story should
reach a nail-biting climax it instead turns into plodding
exposition as the author attempts to tie the strands up into
a neat little package. Fortunately, Spectre doesn't
suffer overly from this pitfall. It is a fast-paced and concise
again Telos Publishing should be commended for its attractive
packaging. As far as I'm aware this is only the second title
in a planned run of horror classic reprints; although this
isn't in the same league as Graham Masterton's excellent debut
The Manitou (Masterton, in my opinion, being the best
horror writer of all time), it is nevertheless an intelligent
choice. Telos is producing a sort of DVD Special Edition here,
by reinstating cut scenes and having the author make little
changes here and there to improve the story to how it was
originally intended before the required editorial cuts. How
about James Herbert's The Rats next, or Stephen Gallagher's
Chimera? The sky's the limit.