cover image Jago


Kim Newman. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $22 (536pp) ISBN 978-0-88184-868-7

Though this latest horror novel from the author of The Night Mayor draws on conventional elements of the genre, it is a distinguished literary effort rooted in the emotional interiors of three-dimensional characters. Anthony Jago, a former priest with powerful psychic abilities, has set up a religious cult house in the small British town of Alder, the site of an annual Woodstock-style rock festival that attracts members of many different countercultural groups. As the festival opens, Jago's powers turn evil; he is able to raid peoples' minds and hearts and bring their desperate fantasies to life--fantasies that conjure up creatures ranging from evil dwarves to a murdered biker's ghost to a Martian invasion. As Jago begins to recreate the Book of Revelations in Alder, the only hope for the town, and perhaps the world, is Susan Ames, a psychical agent of the British secret service, who has infiltrated Jago's organization. Newman's prose is sophisticated and his narrative drive irresistible. The realistically blase way characters accustomed to the rapidly changing contemporary world react to the sudden appearances of horrors and monstrosities, and the manner in which the supernatural is depicted--as if ghouls and goblins were no less likely than a nuclear bomb or a toxic waste dump--are only two of this fine novel's many strengths. (Jan.)