In This Skin - Simon Clark

(No Series)

The Luxor Dance Hall has seen a lot over the past hundred years. From Vaudeville, through the big bands and up to the hottest rock acts, the Luxor had them all. It's closed now, a boarded-up relic, standing alone in a run down industrial part of town. But the old dance hall isn't empty. A hideous presence lives there, a monstrous evil that has the ability to invade people's fantasies and nightmares . . . and bring them to life. Three strangers will soon learn the extent of the dance hall's power. As their lives become more and more entangled in its inescapable web, they will come to see that what haunts the Luxor is far worse than any ghost.

In This Skin focuses on a group of interesting people placed in the middle of an old, closed down dance hall with more than a few secrets. The plot is complex, branches off in multiple directions, involves each character for a different reason, and is written in a way that is both dreamy and unsettling. The beginning is intriguing as it provides plenty of backstory into the characters lives, showing legitimate reasons for them to come to the hall.

The middle is filled with rapid action scenes boasting suspense, mystery, and drama. The ending held a morbidly different twist that took me by surprise and filled me with a bittersweet emotion. Clark used some creating myths and ideas to make this work, including his tale with the 'crows', which I will view even more warily now that I have read this book.

All characters were written well and, even though they did some unrealistic things at times, I cared about each and didn't want anything negative to cross their path. The creatures that haunt the halls are creepy and unsettling, definitely creative.

In This Skin started out with swift, hard kicks, never letting up, ending with a final bang that could be felt through the entire length of my spine. The pace was unhurried yet stayed exciting.
Clark's writing style is addictive, unsettling, well-phrased, and nicely bare of unneeded "pretty phrases".

I am already a big fan of Clark, even though I haven't read everything he's written. Strangers impressed the hell out of me, and while I didn't enjoy In This Skin quite as much, it still was fun and moving. It's not filled with as many graphic, horrid images as Strangers was, but it had enough to satisfy people craving blood and gore. The pace was strong, the plot unique enough, the characters emotionally real, and the ending amazing. Definitely recommended.