First published back in February of 1980, Guy N Smith’s pulp horror novel ‘Deathbell’ was one of four horror novels to be released that year by this prolific writer.  The novel was later followed up with the sequel entitled ‘Demons’ (1987).

DLS Synopsis:
In the quaint village of Turbury, the arrival of the Hamilton family has become the gossip of the village. Martyn Hamilton, his wife, their Chinese servant-girl Karamaneh and their ferocious pet dog have recently purchased Caelogy Hall.  A property that had previously been left deserted for a number of years.

Curiosity stirs in the local community as the Hamilton’s begin making alterations to their new property, namely with the addition of a large oriental Tibetan bell that Martyn Hamilton commissions a local tradesmen to have installed within the property’s old belfry.

No expense is spared on the installation of this gigantic bell, with such a great importance put on this new addition to the property that it attracts the attention of the entire community. But there's much more to this ancient bell than just a showy extravagance.

With the bell now fully operational, the residents of Turbury are increasingly subjected to its haunting tones, as the bell rings out over the village. With the deafening chiming still ringing in the ears of the community, sudden cases of severe brain haemorrhaging begin to appear.  And when Julian Dane’s own mother falls victim to the haunting tone of the deafening bell, he goes to the village to investigate the matter himself.

And there, he sees that a madness has started taking over those that have been subjected to the unrelenting toll of the deathbell, and with the madness, blood is soon shed throughout the village...

DLS Review:
From the very outset of the tale, an underlying feeling of unease throbs throughout the book, causing an unnerving eeriness to the progressing storyline. Purposefully strong suggestions of a dark occultist nature are made to the reader from early on, with a strong direction towards this gigantic bell Hamilton is erecting.

The subtle characterisation is portrayed in a surprisingly creepy way, with an unspoken understanding that the Hamilton
s are hiding some dark secret.  Indeed, the Hamiltons draw strong resemblances to that of the wealthy Lawrence and the Ayah from his earlier novelisation of ‘The Ghoul’ (1976).

The pace of the novel gradually picks up from a slow stuttering start, purposefully increasing the tension within the storyline, as the deathbells chimes become more and more frequent. The consequential madness that overwhelms the community brings with it numerous pages of ankle-deep in graphic blood splattered gory violence.

Even for a Guy N Smith novel the violence is frenzied and strong.  With a detailed rape scene that escalates to necrophilia, Smith pulls out all the hard-hitting punches in depicting the horrific outcome of the deathbell’s madness.  However, all through these scenes of rape, murder and general sordid depravation, Smith holds back any real explanation of why any of this is really occurring.

As the novels draws to the eventual showdown between Julian Dane and Martyn Hamilton, the reader is treated to a very long-winded explanation of the true horror of the deathbell from Hamilton himself.  Although this is very contrived in its delivery, the novel still concludes well, with a satisfying grand finale that manages to wrap up the story with an imaginative and inspired explanation to the deathbells curse.

The novel runs for a total of 200 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Deathbell’ instalments:

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