Why I liked it: Wow. This one was a tough one to rate and review. On the one hand, I appreciate the pure, over-the-top schlock of this story. If I hadn’t already known this was published in the early ’70s, I certainly would have deduced it. It fits right in with the early wave of pulp horror that the 1970s came to epitomize. Tryon stuffs everything he can think of in here. There are twists upon twists, gothic elements, the absurd and the outright shocking. There was one scene that was at once so insane and gruesome, and yet so unexpected, that it literally turned my stomach.
It’s not a perfect book, by any means, or even a perfect horror book. Tryon’s writing can be convoluted, excessively wordy and frustratingly vague. There is a sense of having read this kind of story before, but done much more cleanly (perhaps I’m thinking of We Have Always Lived in the Castle or even The Turn of the Screw). There are some great moments, but taken all together, it’s almost too much. Almost.
Who might like it: Fans of horror or anyone who’s interested in the development of the genre will want to read this, especially pulpy ’70s horror like The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby and early Stephen King. It’s a fun book, if you don’t take it too seriously.