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Thursday, 19 December 2013

FFB - Open Tap

OPEN TAP by Trevor Dalton

Originally published in 2007, now available again…
Puppies are cute but unfortunately they grow far too fast. Sadly, little Sweep was destined to grow even faster than nature had intended. He ran away from his young mistress and discovered an interesting source of liquid during the hot summer day. Gradually, over the period of a year, he was transformed into a formidable beast, having received the tainted gift of toxic chemicals spilled into the country’s drainage system by unscrupulous men.

The Beast is the catalyst in many lives – and terminates many too. This is no monstrous creation of Frankenstein; we have no compassion for him as he embarks on a murderous rampage where the innocent and the guilty are equal prey in his terrifying eyes.

As with his earlier horror novel ‘The Possession Legacy’, Trevor Dalton has amassed a collection of characters and has neatly interwoven their lives. At no point is he not in control.

We meet the stammering schoolboy Benjamin, who is bullied most especially by Bagley. Benjamin is befriended by newcomer Tom. It seems that Tom has a troubled childhood and is prone to acts of violence, and his mother Tilly is beset by fear for her son’s future. Then there’s Charlie Worth who realises that his life with his wife Sandra is going nowhere, that he is a failure and his marriage is falling apart. Lucy is a battered wife who has mustered up the courage to flee from her hateful husband Ross; but Ross is full of guile and wants her back so he can teach her the lesson to end all lessons. Regional journalist Gwyn Jefferies seems to be the only one in the media who is putting together the facts of strange sightings of a beast – comparable to the Beast of Bodmin – with a series of horrific murders. He’s determined to follow the trail to get his exclusive and move on to the nationals.

Other characters are encountered, some of whom will succumb to the Beast’s blood-lust. You’re kept on tenterhooks, wondering who will survive and who will die, and thus keep turning the pages.

Dalton has created an intriguing layered novel. Yes, it’s a linear horror tale about how modern toxins can pollute and kill. It’s about unsuspecting people succumbing to the horrifying creature created by mankind. But it’s more than that too. The Beast is a metaphor for the beast in the human animal – whether that’s Ross, or Bagley or even confused sad Tom. Despite the gore and a few erotic encounters, what shines through this novel is the humanity. Indeed, good people – even children – die under the jaws of the Beast, but many find redemption, courage, hope and salvation on their journey towards the tense denouement in the Welsh hills.  After all the carnage, the final paragraph is very moving.


Randy Johnson said...

Sounds interesting. Keep an eye out for this one.

Nik said...

I think you'll like it, Randy.