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David Ash, the skeptical investigator of supposed psychic phenomenon and the hero of Herbert's chilling ghost story Haunted (1988), returns to grapple with an entire village full of spooks in this disappointing sequel. The rural English town of Sleath seems an unremarkable hamlet, but Ash senses "an atmosphere that's conducive to evil" shortly after being summoned there by the Reverend George Lockwood. He discovers that many of the townsfolk are seeing specters of the recently departed. Herbert's usual skill at developing plot through the experiences of several characters fails him here, as it becomes evident that the residents of Sleath exist only to be terrorized by the increasingly malevolent ghosts. Ash proves little help in making sense of the hauntings, getting so sidetracked in his budding romance with Lockwood's daughter that Herbert has to introduce mysterious Seamus Phelan in the book's latter half to explain what is happening. But Phelan's appearance raises as many questions as it answers, including who he is, why he's so knowledgeable about Sleath's dark heritage and why the town's centuries-old legacy has chosen to manifest itself now. The book's abrupt, inconclusive ending leaves the door open for Ash to return; if he does, Herbert will have to spend part of the next novel tying up ends left loose here.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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