Friday, 9 December 2016

Gilray's Ghost

John Norman
Walker Books

A tense and gripping tale of horror and desire. In a pyramid-shaped tomb, in the forest, lie the last remains of Doctor Septimus Carr. An evil necromancer, he believed the bodily fluids of virgins could rejuvenate him; his grisly experiments claiming the life of a servant girl. Now, two centuries later, another girl is in mortal danger. Enter Gilray. Short and chubby, with a turn of speech as bizarre as his attire, Gilray has flown back in time to prevent the wickedness he fears is looming. But it's no simple task. For a start, who is the girl? Is it Linda Blake, Pauline Withers, Cassandra Ashe? Their teacher, flirtatious, poetry-loving Bob Wheatley, is the man whose help Gilray needs most, but he is preoccupied with passionate affairs of his own. At the same time, unknown to Gilray, the sinister Rosa and Robin Underleaf are planning to resurrect their "Master". The key, it seems, is the malign doctor's lost book of spells, if only Gilray can find and interpret it in time. The book explores a number of very different male-female relationships as it moves towards its chilling climax.

This is the third book by John Gordon that I've read over the last year or so.  The first was the one about the woman who was scared of a stick, the second was about some flying kids and a chalk giant and this one is about a time travelling bicycle repairman baker who traps people inside a walking stick.  Traditional plots are not where Mr. Gordon likes to travel.

So, how do I explain that plot?  You know what? I'm not going to try.  'Gilray's Ghost' is another intriguing oddity from the good Mr. Gordon but, much like the others, it just doesn't quite hit the mark for me. The daftness of the concept and the distasteful hints at necrophilia and paedophilia alongside his characteristic jumbled dialogue and unlikeable characters make it a bit of a gruelling and ultimately unfulfilling read.

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