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Book Reviews: Pandemonium + Nightmare Park

Pandemonium by Warren Fahy
The long delayed sequel to 2009’s wonderful ‘Fragment’ is an indecisive sullied mess. A mad Russian oligarch has got hold of some Henders Island wildlife and unleashed them in the underground Soviet city he bought. Also present in the underground city is a cave containing an ecosystem isolated for uncounted epochs. Naturally people get eaten. Meanwhile various Henders Island survivors run around uttering self-deprecating ones liners yet failing to explain how a Henders Island disk-ant can grow into a 40 foot tree.

The mad oligarch’s spoilt brat daughter tantrums, gets people killed and is fantastically annoying and beleaguering. Despite fervent hopes the little cow doesn’t die. Also the Hendros (aka Sels) the sentient ancient life forms that were rescued from Henders Island have their own agenda despite apparent conviviality.

As for the fascinating cave life forms preserved in aspic, the ‘heroes’ find a way to destroy another ecosystem in disproportionate response. This was a boring, overly padded, repetitive mess that wastes all the sequel hooks set up in ‘Fragment’. Don’t even get me started on Fahy’s response to what he sees as unjustified criticism of his artistic licence use of biology in ‘Fragment’.

Best Lines:
“Forgive me.”
“That’s above my pay grade!”

“This stuff just ate five men.”

“Do what I ask or I will have you killed.”

“Nothing will live on that island for a million years.”

“They don’t belong on this planet with us.”

“You will not be able to get out. Ever.”

“No! There weren’t any mollusks there!”

Nightmare Park by Linda Hoy
This excellent 1988 novel is about a school trip to a theme park that goes horribly awry. It is an engrossing if dated read. A number of sinister disappearances and accidents have taken place at the huge and famous horror themed Nightmare Park, the police think a bunch of missing teenagers are no big deal and are oddly reluctant to get involved.

Maria and Teresa con their teacher into taking their class to the theme park on the pretext of shooting a movie for her media studies class. As their classmates avail themselves of satan’s staircase, the Iron Maiden, Dracula’s Castle and the Batbreaker, the duo go to the Gingerbread House. They are unaware they are heading into the proximity of a loony who has been fomenting severe reprimands for stupid teenagers for some time. After all at Nightmare Park, a crazy serial killer is practically inconspicuous as they blend right in.

This was an excellent if slender book despite dated references to: letters, a cassette deck, a bean bag, typists, David Blunkett comprehensive, a word processor, making a video, an assessment centre, computer discs, teenagers reading brochures, a video camera,  teenagers wearing training shoes, blue denim jeans and a bomber jacket, a safety officer, a teacher reading an ordnance survey map,  a radical teacher wearing a free Nelson Mandella t-shirt, school children using folders, pen and paper, a teenager using 1000 ASA film, a shop called Chelsea Girl and Teresa planning to develop the photos taken at Nightmare Park. I’d love to read the sequel ‘Horror Express’.

Best Lines:
“We watched him staggering out dripping with bits of seaweed and strips of sodden bog roll on his head.”

“That sounds ominous.
“Yes, well, it’s supposed to be.”

“Please Miss, a tramp’s just walked into the classroom.”

“This ghost gondalizes you across the lake.”

“The idea is that Jez will hide behind a hedge and run up and down with a flashing disco strobe light in his hand and people will think that he’s a police car.”

“The words he uses are so rude that classes all over school are interrupted as nuns cover up their ear drums and run to shut their classroom windows.”

“Well, it doesn’t make any difference to you. You look abnormal anyway.”

“He raises his fingers as if he’s about to make a rather rude sign but, when he sees a nun driving the bus, he crosses himself instead.”

“Roger, a cretinous youth, built like a haystack.”

“When a pair of football boots landed on her head, Roger was looking out of the window.”

“If a maniac is chasing you with a sharpened broomstick, you don’t just sit there.”

“Repent! Repent! Have a Liquorice All Sort! Repent! Repent! Repent!”

“I don’t think Ms Maltby will turn into a psychopathic murderer but, just in case she does, I want my conscience to be clear.”
Tags: 1980s horror anthologies, 2nd hand book store find, book review

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