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SEDUCTIONS
By RAY GARTON (Pinnacle; 1984)

This was the first novel by Ray Garton, and a book that greatly upset one of its first readers, the late Robert Bloch--who allegedly informed the young Garton that "you're unwell." SEDUCTIONS was certainly like nothing else being published back in 1984 in its unapologetic mix of eroticism and violence, with stunningly gruesome imagery that nowadays seems right out of the Japanese WICKED CITY anime and series of novels.

     This being a first novel, allowances will have to be made for the overly deliberate set-up, perfunctory characterizations and simplistic splatter movie-ish narrative. As with most eighties splatter flicks, SEDUCTIONS contains an Old Testament sense of morality visited upon characters who behave badly, and in most cases exist only to be picked off.

     There's the teenaged Leslie, who's slutty and aloof; Kyle, who's nerdy and overweight; and Freddie, a telepathically endowed woman who's nice but makes the mistake of screwing around with the married hero. Then there's Donald, a thirtyish schoolteacher who happens to be the book's only truly virtuous character (being a dude, the fact that he commits adultery with Freddie is forgivable).

     The instigators of the madness are a band of shape-shifting succubi who live to seduce and devour humans, in this case the residents of a small Northern California town. These critters more often than not turn up in the guises of hot chicks, and consume their prey via large fang-lined vaginas. Only Donald presents any sort of viable resistance, together with Freddie, who alone knows of the creatures' true nature.

     The book's sexual content is strong--again, unusually so for an early-eighties mainstream horror novel--meaning Garton deserves credit, at least, for sheer audacity. The wonderfully vivid descriptions of morphing and mutation, which find their fullest expression in the climactic passages, are also noteworthy.

     It's just too bad the book as a whole doesn't measure up. Yes, it's plenty gross and can be said to deliver exactly the type of trashy horror it promises, but it would take a few years, in novels like LIVE GIRLS and THE NEW NEIGHBOR, for Garton to really cut loose.

     

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