cover image The Forbidden Zone

The Forbidden Zone

Whitley Strieber. Dutton Books, $21 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93683-1

A dedication to H. P. Lovecraft opens Strieber's ( Unholy Fire ) latest tale, paving the way for fantastical and grisly visions. In fact, Strieber borrows liberally from his malignant muse, adapting that author's concept of a monstrous alternate dimension and even giving Lovecraft's ubiquitous whippoorwills a cameo appearance. Not long after physicist Brian Kelly and his pregnant wife hear human screams coming from within a dirt mound, inhabitants of their upstate New York town are attacked by wasp-like fireflies, women transformed into grub-like creatures are dug from the earth and an otherworldly being terrorizes motorists from its Dodge Viper. Brian theorizes that somehow the space-time fabric has been breached, and before long he and a few companions are engaged in a classic battle with an army of ancient demons. Strieber's updates and additions to Lovecraft's original ideas--for instance, the sexual component of gruesome death scenes--provide ample suspense and gore, even if the final battle has few fresh twists. Horror enthusiasts will find his central concept chilling, a primal force beyond human comprehension or control. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections. (July)