First published back in March of 1980, British author John Halkin’s pulp horror novel ‘Slither’ was the first book in the ‘Slither-Slime-Squelch’ creepy-crawly trilogy.  The novel was later followed on by the similarly themed novels ‘Slime’ (1984) and ‘Squelch’ (1985).

DLS Synopsis:
In the dank sewers of London, thirty-six year old TV film cameraman Matt Parker is filming a TV documentary about urban growth through the centuries. However, whilst Parker is left on his own for a short period of time, he is attacked by a swarm of limbless newt-like creatures, later referred to as the 'worms'.

Hungry for human flesh and with a newly acquired taste for blood, these bizarre creatures swarm on their victims, ripping into their flesh with razor sharp teeth. Parker survives the ordeal, but is left severely disfigured.

Upon hearing of this new threat in the very heart of Britain, the media go crazy over the notion of these seemingly mutant worms which actually attacked a fit and strong human being. Soon enough though the media hype draws to an end, and as such, the worms are dismissed as no more of a menace than mere ferrets.

However, after his near death experience with the worms, Parker has no intention of simply dismissing the creatures that left him disfigured. One way or another, he i
s going to prove to the world the danger these worms pose.

Meanwhile, in a quaint little village within Middlehampton the first of the carnivorous worms begin to strike once again. By now the worms have grown not only in size but in their numbers. Nowhere around any water is safe anymore, as they swarm out of ponds, swimming pools and down domestic bathroom pipes. The British population now faces a new and truly horrifying enemy...the worms.

DLS Review:
Bursting with gruesome deaths throughout, John Halkin's debut novel ‘Slither
packs in a vast array of graphic deaths at the hands of these bizarre and imaginative invertebrates. Halkin surprisingly never really defines exactly what these carnivorous vermillion limbless newts are. One almost gets the impression that Halkin planned to have the deadly creatures as either newts or worms and the publishers persuaded him otherwise, meeting somewhere in the middle by way of a (somewhat confusing) compromise. This does nothing to weaken the plot however, and if anything, adds a darker air of mystery to their ambiguous roots.

The tale
s principal character, Matt Parker, is a well-developed and an easily identified with character whose frustrating mission easily draws sympathy from the reader. Once the worms attack again, this time in greater numbers and on a greater scale, the novel quickly takes off into an all-out splatterpunk-fest. Halkin's imaginative deaths and building tension in the face of such a preposterous enemy to mankind is nothing short of commendable.

The ‘worms
display a surprising intelligence that adds another level of fear to the storyline. The tale reads like Shaun Hutson's novel ‘Slugs (1982) but with the attacking creatures displaying a higher level of cunning. Indeed, as the novel progresses, the worms appear to take on roles in a similar way to that of ants, with their ‘workers, ‘soldiersand of course the most deadly of them all - the queen worm.  This in itself draws further similarities to the main 'nest' idea utilised in Gregory A Douglas's novel ‘The Nest (1980).

Ending with a nail biting and action packed finale, Halkin manages to keep the pace racing from when the worms first launch their all-out attack on the community of Middlehampton until the book's final conclusion. Unfortunately, the first few chapters of the novel (forming perhaps the first third of the book) are of a considerably slower pace, setting down the scene and carefully building up the tension before the inevitable larger scale attack takes place.

The worm like creatures are an interesting and novel idea for the enemy, although the concept and general plot is now so over saturated from the sheer abundance of similar pulp horror novels that flooded the market during the 80
s. That said, Slither still remains a thoroughly enjoyable read, with many twists and turns to the storyline that you cant help but get immersed within Halkins next epidemic.

The novel runs for a total of 215 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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