By Chet Williamson
A TOR Book, 372 pp, 1987
This book is considered a modern horror
classic. It brought Chet Williamson a lot of fame (don't know about
fortune). I don't think it's very good and don't understand what the big
deal was about.
The premise is interesting enough. On Ash
Wednesday, the good folks of Merridale, PA wake up to find ghosts all
over their small town. These ghosts are naked. They are in houses,
streets, public buildings, everywhere. The apparitions are frozen in the
exact moment of their deaths, so some are quite gruesome, others are
peaceful. The ghosts neither speak nor move. They're just there.
The town makes the national news. Some
hotshot from the government shows up to investigate.
So that's pretty cool. Williamson then
introduces some characters. One man finds the ghost of his mistress in
his bed. He killed her and his wife never found out. Another haunted
Vietnam vet sees the ghost of his long-lost buddy. One lady who has
moved away comes back to see the ghost of a boyfriend who died years
ago. Another man sees the ghost of his son, killed in a fiery bus
accident in which he (the man) was the driver.
Okay, so we got the situation and the
characters. And then, nothing. The rest of the book is essentially a
character study and not a very interesting one. The only thing that
actually happens is the Vietnam vet goes psycho (nice stereotype there).
The ghosts are just a prop in this story
and probably some kind of metaphor for something, but I didn't care
enough about the book to figure it out. This novel is way overrated, and
I am so glad I paid just two bucks for it at a used book sale.