Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spirit (1995) by Graham Masterson

Spirit (1995) by Graham Masterson: For awhile, things go along really well in this increasingly odd ghost story from the prolific Mr. Masterson. The period details of 1940's and early 1950's small-town America seem solid. The main characters are convincingly drawn within the confines of the pulp melodrama. 

Our first sign of trouble is a fairly horrible bit of characterization centered around the female victim of statutory rape. And she's 11, so it's really, really, really statutory. But at this young age she knows that she holds the sexual power over her rapist, and not vice versa! Masterson isn't a good enough writer to pull this bit off. Instead, it's really, really, really icky, and later attempts to depict this mind-set as evidence of psychological trauma keep getting undercut by the text's more prurient sections. 

Our second sign of trouble comes with the increasingly ridiculous explanation for the hauntings and supernatural events surrounding this one family. As Ramsey Campbell once observed, "Explanation is the death of horror." And in this case it really, really, really is.

A third trouble occurs and recurs as various characters who should know better wander off alone and do stupid things so as to get killed. A fourth comes with a one-page Epilogue that might just as well have read 'Poochie died on the way back to his home planet,' so perfunctory and baffling it is. The character who was raped at 11 (or was it 10?) later gets anally raped at the age of 21, but only after she initiates sexual contact with her rapist because she really wants to make it in Hollywood. The rapist has a giant purple cock because of course he does. You know, this novel gets worse and worse the more I think about it. Not recommended, giant cocks and promiscuous tweens and all.

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