First published back in 1983, British splatterpunk author Shaun Hutson released his novel ‘Spawn’ to his hungry and quickly growing fanbase.
In his bedroom, young Harold Pierce has been quietly spending his time torturing crane-flies with burning matches. However, he soon loses control of the burning insects and the flames quickly spread until the whole house is consumed by the spreading fire. Harold’s mother and baby brother Gordon, die in the raging inferno. After the fire is put out, the authorities deem young Harold Pierce to be mentally ill and incarcerate him in a mental asylum.
Meanwhile, convicted killer Paul Harvey has escaped from nearby Cornford Maximum Security Prison. Convinced that Harvey will return to his home town of Exham, the authorities begin a thorough search and surveillance of the town.
After news that the Exham Mental Hospital is to be demolished, having spent thirty-five years of his life within the confines of the asylum, Pierce is finally deemed no longer a threat to society or indeed himself, and is subsequently released and set up with a job at the local hospital working as a porter.
Settled in his new job, Pierce is unthinkingly given the traumatic job of incinerating the dead foetuses from abortions and miscarriages. Pierce can’t handle the idea of casting these small foetuses into the hospital incinerator and instead buries them in a nearby field. However, one night a powerful storm hits the area, sending an electricity pylon crashing into this secret burial area. The surging electricity awakens three of the dead foetuses.
Over the ensuing days, headless corpses start turning up around Exham causing a widespread panic amongst the terrified community. Inspector Lou Randall is put in charge of the case, suspecting the work of the escaped convict Paul Harvey. The murders are piling up, and no matter what Randall does, the killer seems to elude him each and every time.
But there are dark controlling forces at work. Harold Pierce is feeding his three foetuses on his blood; their combined minds are using him to do their will. There is much more to all of this than the inspector would ever have thought. And right at the centre of it all is a very disturbed mind, still tormented by his tragic actions as a child...
Hutson’s novel ‘Spawn’ weaves together one of his most elaborately contrived plots to date, drawing together three major plot-lines to form a chaotic and gripping story, packed to the rafters will the usual Hutson-esque horror and all out gore.
Characterisation is the usual two-dimensional clichéd effort that we have come to expect from Hutson. So what though? His novels are about the unrelenting pace, firing with all cylinders to create a storyline that never lets up. ‘Spawn’ is just that. Once the basic premise is set down, Hutson gets straight into the thick of it, jumping from one subplot to the next in order to maintain a breath-taking pace, throwing in countless scenes of horror, mayhem, violence and gore.
The underlying mystery of the novel is pretty damn weak to say the least, with a none-to-surprising ‘twist’ to the ending that sneaks up on the reader like an elephant would to a mouse. Again, the ‘shock’ finale isn’t really necessary here. Instead, the enjoyment of the tale is in the outlandish action and over-the-top gore. Of which Hutson once again tries to outdo himself with the levels of graphically depicted splatter. Decaying foetuses in a field anyone? Let’s throw in a small vulnerable child to discover them shall we? Excellent work!
‘Spawn’ is a novel for all the splatter fans out there. It’s not much more than pure unashamed splatterpunk entertainment from start to finish. It’s gripping in its unrelenting pace. It’s entertaining in the wildly over-the-top plot. It’s just mindless horror fiction fun...nothing more...and nothing less.
The novel runs for a total of 287 pages.
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