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Review by
Garrett Peck
by Hugh B. Cave

Leisure Books
TP 359 pages
ISBN: 0-8439-4893-0


Hugh B. Cave is the last living writer of the Golden Age of pulp fiction. He was selling stories to Weird Tales and Dime Detective before many of our grandparents were born. He's received life achievement awards from the HWA, the IHG and the World Fantasy Association. No one has more right to rest on his laurels. But at 90 years old, Cave is still going strong. His contract with Leisure sees his work being introduced to a new generation of horror fans. Hopefully they'll be inspired to track down his earlier work after enjoying his latest.

THE EVIL RETURNS is a sequel to his 1981 novel THE EVIL, published by Ace/Charter. If you haven't, don't let that scare you off. Cave provides enough backstory that unfamiliarity with the first book won't hamper your enjoyment.

Though written twenty years later, THE EVIL RETURNS picks up the story of legless Haitian bocor Margal a few months after the conclusion of The Evil. Believed to have perished in a fire at the climax of the first book, he has been in hiding, gathering his strength and making new, more ambitious plans. Kidnapping the daughter of American Ambassador is only the first step in his plot to extend the reach of his awesome powers of mind control into the highest levels of the United State government. The ambassador's wife knows nothing of this; she just wants her daughter back. She and her old boyfriend race to rescue the girl as Margal uses her to further his nefarious scheme.

Cave's seventy years of experience show is his finely wrought prose, though even he makes an occasional misstep. There is a lot of dizzying point of view switches, especially early on. In one scene the viewpoint switches four times. Even so, Cave's pulp sensibilities ensure a fast paced, involving read. Cave probably knows more about authentic Voodoo than any other white man alive and plays to his strengths in this novel. Though he may be an old school writer, this story is no throwback. It's thoroughly modern and topical. In fact, the climax features an incident that seems positively prophetic.

Cave's influence on horror fiction is important and pervasive. We are lucky to have been graced with his talents for so long and even luckier to still be receiving the fruit of those talents. May he go on writing for another seventy years.

THE EVIL RETURNS earns 3 solid Book Wyrms.

This review copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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