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Craig's Book Club
Book Review

Spotlight on: The Attraction by Douglas Clegg


To arrange to have products considered for review, send an email to craigsbookclub@yahoo.com.


Buy The Attraction by Douglas Clegg Douglas Clegg, The Attraction (also includes The Necromancer)

Author Douglas Clegg likes to challenge himself with each new piece of fiction. He tries his hand at B-grade movie horror with the title novella in The Attraction, and succeeds marvelously. But, as always, he adds a little touch of his own.

A group of college friends who have decided to travel across the country during their break come upon the Brakedown Palace along their way. It is a lot like any other out-of-the-way service station, except for what lurks in the back room. It is The Attraction: the mummified skeleton of a figure the owners nicknamed Scratch. According to the signage, "once Scratch gets fresh human skin under his fingernails and the taste of blood, he'll come back ... to reap the human harvest."

Well, of course, two of the guys get into a scuffle, break the glass, and one of them accidentally bleeds on the newly uncovered Scratch. It's a simple and familiar plot, and Clegg runs with it. If you've seen the kinds of movies The Attraction is inspired by, there are few surprises, but Clegg manages to keep the tension high and puts the proper scares in their places. You'll be getting chills even while you're chuckling at the pure silliness of it all.

But, of course, there's more: Clegg isn't satisfied to just crank out a derivative tale and be done with it. He also examines other attractions, the attractions these friends have for one another. And he gives his eventual hero a chance to prove himself to himself -- to take this opportunity to "become a man" while defeating the ancient creature. This takes The Attraction to another level that another author may not have attempted. The extra effort Clegg puts into his work is one aspect that has made him one of my favorite authors.

Also included in with The Attraction is another Clegg novella. "The Necromancer" is a terrific prequel to Clegg's Harrow House series. In it, Justin Gravesend (who built the house and is the source of its bad energy) tells in his own words the story of his early years. First being born in Cwthshire, Wales, to a strict father, then to the horrific discovery that changed his attitude toward his parents, and finally to the meeting of the title character who introduced him to the power of black magic.

Justin Gravesend's story is one of perversity and debauchery and his embracing of it. Clegg does not back away from the more unsavory elements, yet keeps the language of the time (presumably the late 1800s), so that sometimes it felt as if I were reading something a work from Boccaccio or the like. "The Necromancer" is never anything less than compelling, and I finished this relatively short tale in two sittings.

Some readers may be disappointed by its brief nature and abrupt ending (though this is addressed in the text); it is really only the beginning of a story that has only been hinted at in the other novels. Hopefully, Clegg will address this more fully at a later time, but until then, this taste of the history of the man behind Harrow is satisfying enough -- and the price is right.

This review was originally published in somewhat different form in Down in the Cellar. Copyright 2006. Reprinted with permission.


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