The Basement

Bari Wood, Author William Morrow & Company $17.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-688-13351-1
Wood (Doll's Eyes) gives us more reasons to not go down into the basement in this chilling but painfully old-fashioned horror novel. Superwealthy New Englander Myra Ludens knows that her cellar instills a sense of foreboding in nearly everyone who enters it. What she doesn't know is that the contractor who's just redone it found the bones of one Elizabeth ``Goody'' Redman, who was hanged in 1695 for witchcraft and buried in unhallowed ground under the basement flooring. After Myra has a horrible vision in which these relics animate themselves and go after her, she asks Arlen Pinchot, one of her circle of eight wealthy friends who have been inseparable since kindergarten, for a book on raising and denouncing evil presences (Arlen's father was an aficionado of the occult). The ensuing exorcism seems to work, but then disaster strikes a number of people whom Myra doesn't like. Her cantankerous neighbor is stung to death by bees; the abusive husband of one of her friends is attacked by ticks, to fatal effect. Help in sorting out the mayhem arrives from Manhattan alchemist Job Landau and, especially, from Myra's psychiatrist friend Reed Lerner-but there's apparently nothing they can do to prevent a conclusion that's as confusing and unsatisfying as it is gory. Wood's fast pacing and ability to write a spooky scene will engage most readers, at least until the climax, but, except for the excessive bloodshed, there's little here-including a coy reference to the horrorscape of H.P. Lovecraft-that wasn't a staple of horror fiction 20 years ago. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-380-72305-8
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