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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Review: Tim Lebbon: ‘The Everlasting’

I don’t get to read professional horror authors’ completed works as often as I’d like.  That changed – temporarily at least – when I took Tim Lebbon’sThe Everlasting’ with me on holiday last week.

Lebbon is a British author with a growing reputation in the horror genre.  Immediately on starting the book it was clear why – the style is very easy to read.  The main characters – Scott and his grandfather (‘Papa’) are expertly drawn and I felt I knew them from the opening pages.  Of all the other writers I’ve come across, I think only the late Richard Laymon does (did, sadly) characterisation better.  Papa appeared only through Scott’s memories, which made his characterisation particularly skilled.

The plot wasn’t unusual, with Scott finding himself on a quest in ‘The Wide’ (an equivalent of the Celtic Otherworld and the like) – I used something broadly similar myself in ‘The Wood’.  The plot was logical, and flowed well.

So, why didn’t ‘The Everlasting’ quite ‘do it’ for me?

Well, I’ve read a couple of other reviews that seem to agree with my assessment, that the book isn’t really horror.  There are some very unsettling elements, but I thought what made the story what it was was unexpected fantastical elements, not horror.  In fact, some of the darker elements were perhaps too surreal to ever be truly scary, no matter how well Lebbon wrote about them.

So, I won’t give ‘The Everlasting’ a mark out of ten.  It will likely satisfy readers of dark, urban fantasies, but I found the cover and the library’s ‘horror’ tag misleading. 

So, it’s still been too long since I read a professional horror novel!

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