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SATYR
By LINDA CROCKETT GRAY (Playboy; 1981)

There are some good things here, but they're overshadowed by the not-so-good stuff. SATYR is a feminist-minded horror novel thatís solidly constructed, but with an excess of self-righteous finger-wagging about the evils of pornography (from a novel published by Playboy Press!), guy talk (apparently "the jargon of the rapist") and pretty much any expression of male sexuality.

     The title character is a renegade member of a sect of supernaturally endowed satyr-like individuals with hooved feet and distinctly goat-like appearances. They resemble the Great God Pan, the god of debauchery and excess, whose outrages the renegade satyr is apparently trying to emulate. Upon arriving in Florida the satyr embarks on a rape spree that leaves several dead bodies in its wake, as the monster psychically induces his victims to commit suicide.

     The heroine is (unfortunately enough) Martha, a feminist loudmouth who runs a rape counseling center. She's brought into direct contact with the satyr and is nearly run off the road one day due to his psychic influence. She eventually solves the mystery of the satyr and helps bring him down, with the help of several of his less amorous fellows. Along the way, of course, Martha dishes out a lot of unasked-for feminist admonishments, and masterminds the vigilante takedown of a non-satyr affiliated rapist in a subplot included, presumably, so we'll get the message that rape is bad.

     It's a shame the novel is so preachy and uneven, as the depictions of the psychic devastation the satyr-rapist leaves in his wake--with the victims taking endless baths and completely withdrawing from the world prior to committing suicide--are genuinely unnerving. I get it: these passages are intended as exaggerated depictions of what most all rape victims experience, and, Iíd argue, convey the author's feminist predilections with more force and finesse than any of Martha's ramblings. The origin of the satyr is also interesting, related in a voluminously researched manner that takes into account all manner of old world mythology and folklore.

     

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