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THIS GHOSTING TIDE
By
SIMON CLARK (Bad Moon Books; 2009)

I’m not a huge fan of the British horrormeister Simon Clark (whose many novels include BLOOD CRAZY, DARKNESS DEMANDS, THE MIDNIGHT MAN), although he has a fairly substantial following. Clark’s fans will likely appreciate this novella, even though I’m lukewarm on it.

     It deals with an intriguing concept: an invisible psychic wave called a “Ghosting Tide” that sweeps the land and causes the dead to rise. But that’s just one of several ideas warring for prominence in a book that never quite coalesces into a satisfying whole.

     In a nonfiction prologue Clark claims this tale was inspired by a ghost hunting documentary series Clark created for the BBC called WINTER CHILLS, from which he “combined memory of actual events with imagination and invention” into a “cocktail of fiction and autobiography.” A confused cocktail, I’d say!

     Much like Clark’s TV program, THIS GHOSTING TIDE centers on a colorful group of British ghost hunters--whose ranks include an ape named Polidori to go with the group’s leader Byron--investigating an apparently haunted beachfront home. But they’ve barely begun setting up their equipment when the Ghosting Tide hits and a bunch of slaughtered rabbits painfully return to life.

     Where the tale goes from there I won’t reveal, except to say that a development occurs that’s so out of left field it might as well have emerged from an entirely different book. This bizarre occurrence--which gives another meaning to the eponymous Tide--has the effect of jazzing up a narrative that seemed on track to becoming another cookie-cutter haunted house story.

     What follows has a certain B-movie energy, with some diverting grossness (what is “corpse gloop?”) and a second sweep by the Ghosting Tide, which this time is far deadlier than before. The disappointing ending, however, seems on loan from a bad Hollywood movie (it comes complete with a doomsday countdown, a device that doesn’t work especially well in fictional form) and could definitely have used some major work.

     

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