Editor: Simon Clark
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Deep in the heart of rural North Yorkshire, a band of sinister creatures roam
the wind-swept moors and isolated villages, terrorising bewildered locals and
performing bizarre, blood-soaked rituals. For in the unholy triangle between Whitby,
Leppington and Morningdale, Goths are on the rise. Can anything save fey hotel
owner Electra Charnwood and guileless art student Dylan Adams from falling into
their black-nailed, lace-clad clutches? Just when all appears lost, mysterious
gurglings from the nearby waters of Lazarus Deep raise the spectre of an even
greater threat, the resurgence of an evil thought to have been banished from the
Earth years before: New Romantics. Oh, alright then, vampires.
For this is the sequel to Clark’s 1998 sharp-toothed Vampyrrhic, re-uniting
its reluctant Van Helsings in a battle against a new batch of the undead. Don’t
worry if you haven’t read the first instalment, as Clark eases you gently
into the story, bumping off well-sketched minor characters in suitably gruesome
fashion and indicating his heroes with big red arrows. Mysterious e-mails and
vague feelings of dissatisfaction soon blossom into fully-fledged portents and
presentiments, and even if you overlook those, there’s no avoiding the eldritch
ravens and storms that punctuate significant events.
This is old-school horror written by a new wave expert, and while Clark often
misses the opportunity to flesh out his characters and story, he never passes
up the chance to run his claws down your spine. The plot races forward with all
the subtlety of a postal worker on a shooting spree, and with a similar hit rate.
Clark paints his corner of Yorkshire with a brush as dark and rich as Lovecraft’s,
then splashes the canvas with an unconvincing Shining-style interlude featuring
a tortured ageing rock star. As Rites lurches towards a conclusion, Clark reaches
increasingly deep into his bag of literary tricks, pulling out doppelgangers,
Norse gods and finally Night Of The Living Dead. It’s high energy writing,
but like all the best rollercoaster rides, part of the thrill comes from realising
it could collapse at any moment.
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