First published back in October of 1995, British author Stephen Laws’ eighth full-length novel to be published was entitled ‘Daemonic’.

DLS Synopsis:
Jack Draergerman is an eccentric billionaire.  His initial fortune was made from architecture and civil engineering.  Since then he has become known as a particularly ruthless business man who will stop at nothing to ensure the continuation and explanation of his financial empire.  Although he has an artistic streak in him that has found its way into the form of movies.  And so, with his money backing him, over the years he has become an infamous movie director of gloriously cult horror B-movies.

However, Jack Draergerman hasn’t been seen for a good ten years now.  Locked away in his self-designed towering skyscraper known as ‘The Rock’, the eccentric recluse has been hidden away from the public eye for so long the world has almost given up on wondering what ever happened to him. 

But then, from seemingly out of the blue, seven seemingly complete strangers are offered fifty thousand pounds each to come to ‘The Rock’.  A further two-hundred pounds promised upon their acceptance and arrival at the great structure.  An offer most would find incredibly difficult to refuse.  But to ensure that all seven carefully selected individuals accept, Draergerman has ordered his smartly dressed henchmen to use force if the request should be declined.

And so sure enough, within a matter of hours, all seven of Jack Draergerman’s guests are in helicopters on their way to the huge gothic fortress set in the very heart of the most dangerous area of the inner-city.  No one bar Draergerman and his heavily-armed employees have seen inside this massive structure that dominates the skyline.  These seven nervous, and what seems to be unconnected members of the public, are the first to have been invited into the foreboding structure.  The first who will have laid eyes on Jack Draergerman for ten long years.

But upon arriving, the group quickly learn that it’s not all niceties and hospitable pleasantries that are waiting for them in ‘The Rock’.  For along the thousands of twisting and cobweb strewn corridors that make up the vast proportion of the goliath building are large fully-enclosed rooms, constructed to be almost identical reproductions of classic 1950’s horror B-movie sets.  Rooms that the seven guests have been left alone to explore.  Sets that have one vital difference between themselves and the originals.  For behind the carefully engineered cogs and workings of the elaborate horror sets, there are dark and powerful forces at work.  Forces that have been waiting for these seven guests to arrive.  And hunger for their presence. 

Jack Draergerman has made a deal.  A horrifying deal with something truly daemonic...

DLS Review:
The tale starts with an intriguing introduction to the seven characters that form Jack Draergerman’s carefully selected guests to his monolithic skyscraper known as ‘The Rock’.  From these early introductions, Laws sets down a colourful array of characters, each with delightfully individualistic responses to the reclusive billionaire’s request.  And it’s from these initial glimpses with the principal characters’ characterisation that the reader can establish the exaggerated and slightly pulpish air that Laws will be incorporating with the characters and indeed the entire storyline.

To say that this is an over-the-top horror novel is somewhat of an understatement.  Laws has incorporated his obvious and unashamed love of cheesy 1950’s horror B-Movies, in all their wild and lurid beauty, and transposed them into a modern horror story – still with all the exaggerated beastie goodness left utterly in tack.  It’s a wonderful homage to the imaginative and inventiveness of those wacky B-Movies that still have such a fondness in many of our hearts.  Indeed, the more outlandish and over-the-top, the better the movie.  And Laws has really gone to town with his creative infusion of such movies (with titles such as: Swamp Water Woman, Speed Demon, and Spider Venom) into the fast-paced and action-packed horror backdrop of his tale.

The main body of the story follows the seven hand-picked guests (Susan DePaolo, Jessica Morell, Frank Wells, Roy Jensen, Edward Boone, Gloria Pernell, Bobby Pernell & Farrow) as they make their way through the many miles of dark and dingy corridors inside The Rock.  However, a secondary storyline following Susan DePaolo’s partner Den Lucas runs in dribs and drabs alongside the main storyline, adding another layer to the key character of Susan as well as an outside perspective of The Rock and Susan’s possibly unwilling incarceration within the towering building.

It has to be said that much of the novel is structured in a particularly formulaic fashion, with room after room after room, following a distinct order, making the tale as a whole feel quite rigidly structured.  This uniformed flow does begin to feel a little too restricted and channelled along one particular route, which gradually takes away a certain level of exciting flexibility and unpredictability from the overall flow of the tale.  However, this is certainly not a particularly detrimental element, and in the grand scale of things barely makes much of an impact on the overall enjoyment of the outlandish horror antics taking place in Draergerman’s Rock.

But what really works for the novel is the purposeful embracing of these aforementioned wild and weird B-Movies of the 1950’s.  Okay, so it’s been cunningly incorporated into the plot of this modern-day horror novel, but the actual essence behind those much-loved cheesy horror flicks is still very much present.  It very gradually swallows the tale up, until the line between the shoddy B-Movie antics and the real-life horror for our characters becomes so blurred that they are one-in-the-same.

The tale ends on a befittingly explosive and altogether over the top note, that just feels so perfectly in keeping with the rest of the story.

The novel runs for a total of 488 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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