First published back in August of 1990, British horror writer James Herbert’s fifteenth novel was entitled ‘Creed’.

DLS Synopsis:
Joseph Creed is a London-based freelance photographer with an eye for a good picture and very little in the way of morals to get in the way of his paparazzi success.  Hated by many, Creed is nevertheless happy with his lot in life.  He’s a scumbag and he knows it.  He’ll walk over anyone, stoop to almost any level, and deceive his way through life just to get what he wants.  Women come and go.  Never really leaving much of a mark.  They have their purposes for Creed, and that’s as far as it ever goes.

When the major Hollywood actress Lily Neverless dies, Creed is of course hovering around at the funeral.  Not to pay his respects to the late actress, but to snap those in attendance; hopefully capturing a sly smirk from one of the supposed mourners at the passing of the off-screen bitch.

When the funeral draws to a close, Creed hangs around for a few minutes to capture any late stragglers.  And that’s when he sees him.  Lurking in the shadows of a nearby tree, the illusive figure cautiously makes his away over to Lily Neverless’ recently-filled grave and, whilst he believes no one is looking, begins to desecrate the spot in a particularly grotesque manner.  However, Creed is there with his camera capturing every despicable moment of it.

And then he’s spotted.  And of course Creed does what comes naturally to him.  He flees the scene.  But that’s not enough to get away from what he’s just witnessed and captured on film.  And now the man wants the film back.  But Creed senses that there’s a lot more to this than just a strange desecration of a famous actresses’ grave.

It seems that the man will stop at nothing in order to get the film off Creed’s hands.  The photographer soon suffers numerous attempts at intimidation, resulting in him beginning to fear for his very life.  But he knows there’s something really big behind this if those responsible will go to such lengths in order to get their hands on the film.

Examining the photographs, the images reveal an uncanny resemblance to that of a vicious child murderer who was hanged back in the 1930’s – a man named Nikolas Malik.  But surely there is no way in which this despicable being could have risen from the grave and be amongst us today.  How could such a perversion of life and death be possible?

The path leads to the Fallen Angels Of Europe.  Alone, with little help and his (somewhat unwanted) son now kidnapped by the very people that are after him, Creed must dig up the dirt of the past to uncover what dark forces he is facing. Under the threats and the intimidation, lies an evil sect that will stop at nothing to secure their existence.  Demons exist.  And they have their sights set on Creed...

DLS Review:
Having read the novel well over ten years ago, unsurprisingly I found that I needed to revisit the tale somewhat in order to refresh my memory of it.  However, what I didn’t expect was after just the briefest of skims, the elaborate storyline quickly came flooding back, with images of the action, horror and over-the-top gruesome gore bombarding me once again.

The fact that so much of the storyline has stayed with me for so long is a testament to the novel in itself.  I read a hell of a lot, however the way in which Herbert allowed the tale to descend into a pulpish horror-fest in almost the blink of an eye has remained with me ever since.  Shape-shifting vampires, ageless succubi and demons that have existed for centuries are thrown into the chaotic mix of this maniacal roller-coaster of a ride.

It’s one of those tales where the action and drama never seems to let up.  And in amongst the chaos of it all is a strangely humorous approach to our principal character of Creed.  With a slight tongue-in-cheek hint of black comedy, Herbert plays out a number of scenes with a slightly slapstick air to Creed’s lifestyle, sleazy nature and fatherly commitments (however reluctant he is about them).

Creed himself is a delightfully over-the-top anti-hero.  Like an exaggerated cross between David Ash from the likes of ‘Haunted’ (1988) etc, and Jim Kelso from ‘The Jonah’ (1981), this typically gritty principal protagonist takes his negative traits to new depths.  Indeed, much of the entertainment from the tale is from following the exploits and inner-struggles of Creed.  When his own child is thrust upon him from his estranged ex-wife, the resulting annoyance, juggling of responsibilities and unspoken reluctance to get him back after he’s been kidnapped, becomes one of the novel’s numerous highlights.

It has to be said that the tale isn’t the most atmospheric or suspense heavy.  Instead Herbert has delivered an ingeniously fast-paced and wildly exaggerated horror novel, with plenty of odd twists and turns to keep the tale roaring ahead at a mile a minute.

The ending doesn’t really live up to the rest of the tale.  Herbert seems to run out of steam somewhat as he wraps the novel up in an almost slap-dash manner.  However, the tale does end, and the looseness of the finale doesn’t really detract too much from an otherwise cracking read.

All in all this is another thoroughly enjoyable addition to Herbert’s impressive catalogue of publications.  It’s faced-paced and crammed to the rafters with chaotic thrills and spills, delivered with a black-comedy angle, but nevertheless still incorporating a hefty wedge of Herbert’s signature splatter into the mix.  It’s graphic and explicit, with plenty of madness being thrown at our well-developed principal protagonist to keep the reader fully engrossed in the monstrously elaborate plot.

The novel runs for a total of 319 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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