cover image Clowns at Midnight

Clowns at Midnight

Terry Dowling, PS Publishing (, $40 (260p) ISBN 978-1-848630-85-7

Dowling (Amberjack) falters in this creepy novel, which loses its frisson of horror in an excess of information. Writer David Leeton is house-sitting in remote southeastern Australia, recuperating from a broken relationship and trying to cure his pathological fear of clowns. Shortly after his arrival in Starbreak Fell, he begins encountering mysterious objects that trigger his clown fear. Some neighbors from Sardinia offer to help him discover the truth behind the strange happenings, but everything seems to lead back to ancient rites practiced on their ancestral home. While Dowling manages to justify David's analytical approach to his fears, the analysis—perhaps stemming from the book's origins in Dowling's doctoral thesis—distances the reader from the character and undermines the emotional resonance necessary to be horrified by the climax. (Oct.)