Night Plague by Graham Masterton

(Night Warriors, #3)
Published January 1991

For generations, the Night Warriors have used their awesome powers to defend humanity from evil, entering men's dreams to change the shape of waking reality. Now, five modern Night Warriors face their most terrifying enemy.

She is Isabel Gowdie, witch and mistress of Satan. Entombed for three centuries, her powers have grown stronger. Now her evil influence seeps through the earth, carrying the seeds of the Night Plague, a disease which twists men's souls into madness.

The Night Warriors can stop it if they can find Isabel Gowdie's hidden prison. But time is short. With each night's sleep more and more of humankind falls to the Plague, and two of the Night Warriors are already infected.

Graham Masterton may well be one of the only authors who can give me genuine chill jeebies. A lot of people cite King and other well-known writers for their horror ability, but to me Masterton takes the cake with creating trippy visuals and mini scenes that are eerie in cerebrally-taunting ways.

In Night Plague, the back blurb is weird and misleading. I wasn’t having my usual faith in the writer, faith I shouldn’t have lost, as it sounds so incredibly cheesy. Satan and a minion, really? I read the back blurb and thought could this be a Masterton book that is silly and riddled with shortcomings?

Thankfully it wasn’t really all that cheesy. It’s a high fantasy type of horror where the major characters are actually long lines of lineage of warriors who have been fighting for ages. The villain is disturbing and unique, but tied through with her attacks through a surreal dream world and abilities that whisper about creativity. The characters are brought together in a form of fate that works in fantasy types.

Of course there is minor cheese present, but it’s hardly noticeable, and even if the ending is depressing in the death of someone I wished would have stuck around, it was a decent wrap-up to a story that started out incredibly disturbing (not horror wise so much as psychologically twisted), and continued on a middle that held plenty of story, mystery, and merging of personalities to discover what lay ahead.

For the character side of things, you have an interesting blend of opposing personalities. Stanley is a world famous violinist who the reader rides in the mind of throughout the book. He’s more likeable at the beginning with what happens to him and his struggles in dealing with it, but later becomes a little less likeable as time goes on and the ending wraps itself up. I really love the supporting friend, Gordon, but feel Masterton could have done more with him. The girl wasn’t that interesting, and her dialogue skills got on my nerves (couldn’t understand what she was saying half the time), but understanding why her personality was added in. The Knighted Hood? More chilling than all, even worse than the ‘big bad.’ Creepy thing, especially the opening chapters.

The book isn’t terribly quick with its pacing, but there’s always enough wonder to want to keep reading and discover the turn out. There is a death I predicted, it just seemed like where the author would go, even though I hated being proven right and wish the writer didn’t go that route. It’s written through the eyes of the main, Stanley, but still is in a third person point of view with the way it’s done, a little detached, but also detailed at the same time.

There’s plenty of disgusting stuff, too, especially when Stanley spits up some of the side effects. Ew. There is a disturbing rape scene that opens the story to set all of it in motion. It isn’t a situation where there are non-stop deaths or anything, but violence certainly isn’t shied away from, making it a serious horror novel that disturbs without having to try too hard. The fireplace scene stands out as the most creepy by far. Masterton and his thing with faces! I’ve seen that with some of his other books. Many of the scenes are surreal in how they are written, especially when dealing with the dream state.

Overall it’s an interesting book that injects a unique, fantasy type tale into a disturbing story that hints of cheese but is mainly coated with a good story. The ending is the weakest segment, unfortunately, but the ride to get there is a surreal one. It’s not one of his best, but it’s still a worthy horror tale that’s hard to mentally shake away.

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