Evil Offspring by J.N. Williamson

(No Series)

Conceived of an unimaginable father, delivered of a 6,000-year-old corpse, it defied the five senses.

Sight: It was unsubstantial, miasmic ... a glowing, free-form yellow sun. Yet it had limitless energy and the power to change itself into any shape it desired.

Smell: A nightmare creature from the remote past, it exuded a foul-smelling sweat even in the arctic depths of winter.

Sound: It made whirring gasps, bone-breaking clicks and snaps; each ragged breath seemed to shake its entire, constantly changing form.

Touch: It was remote, indefinable, yet it encompassed more knowledge than all of mankind -- and had none of the passion or compassion, devoid of such frivolous emotions. Its heart, if it had a heart, could not be touched by the piteous cries of its victims.

To know it was to taste the ultimate evil.

The older book, released in 1987, was a great treat to revisit. The plot is unique and not as cheesy as the back blurb makes it sound. You have two siblings who feel a need to return to the old house they grew up in, where they were raised by their intelligent, powerful, and twisted grandfather. Years ago, the house partially burned down, destroying both the grandfather and the sadistic, overweight ‘offspring’. The younger of the two siblings, Peggy, has huge gaps in her memory that she can’t fill while her brother, Eric, remembers but won’t tell.

Together they return to the house, along with Jennie, Eric’s girlfriend with a secret motive of her own, and Peggy’s protective but stereotypical jock boyfriend Danny. Once there nightmares await them, things they can’t put their fingers on, and they soon find that even if they wanted to, they couldn’t really leave. They have to stay and fight this thing to the finish…or else lose their lives in the process.

The plot, while nothing groundbreaking, is interesting and fun. The revelation of what the ‘offspring’ really is at the end is slightly confusing but it’s an imaginative fit. From the first to the last, mystery and intrigue coats the pages. It’s hard to figure out exactly what is going down, and this kept me reading. While not the most severe and violent incidents happened throughout the novel, they were all still disturbingly entertaining. The ending was a suitable finish, not a happy go lucky ending that’s sugar coated.

The villain itself is morbid, obese, and creepy. Regrettably, it is also slightly irritating, and I didn’t keep reading simply for it. The characters are realistic and with personality quirks of their own, being fun to read about and follow through. If a character died, I mourned their death; this is as it should be.
Haunted houses and the supernatural are always fascinating; we have everything from the classic séance, to the buried graves, to the strange poltergeist activities. But there’s more than the simple hocus pocus we’re all so familiar with – this story is full of unusual and surprising developments as well.

Williamsons’ style is clever. It’s stylish, arty, and easy to read. His ‘voice’ is endearing and well suited for this type of work.

If you’re a fan of the supernatural, I recommend finding an old copy of ‘The Offspring’. J.N. Williamson is a talented author who I understand is now ill. I pray for his well being, and thank him for leaving us so many books to enjoy for years to come.