Published in 1984, the fourth book in the Night Hunter series of six by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock) begins with a candle-lit dinner evening that changes into something ‘other’. Archaeologist Colin Saville is alarmed to find his daughter’s bedroom is unexpectedly cold for the season. There’s an interloper – a psychic force, disclosed as Daniel Brady. A fiery death follows.
In the first book of the series, Brady’s wife, son and daughter were abducted and he was left for dead by individuals of a Black Magical bent. Since recovering he has devoted his life to tracking down his family and wreaking vengeance on the followers of an entity called Arachne. This is his latest foray, but Brady gleans little from Saville to help in his quest.
Meanwhile, in the west country, ghost-hunter Geoff Cochrane has been called in by a few farmers to exorcise a ghost that has appeared on their land near Pitthurst wood. Cochrane’s daughter Nancy is aware of her father’s ‘talent’ and has a latent ability herself. Cochrane discovers an underground shrine, and one of the farmers inadvertently unleashes a powerful and deadly influence.
Dan is called out by police superintendent Sutherland, who investigated the original abduction. Apparently, another family was attacked and by chance the invaders abruptly stopped and were summoned away to Pitthurst. Dan sets off to investigate and eventually meets up with Cochrane and they join forces.
The shrine serves a purpose. It is one of many, however. Each one requires the living essence of people to be drained and absorbed by an evil embryo from the ancient past.
Dan and Geoff find themselves besieged in the farmhouse while Geoff’s daughter is somewhere out there, at risk. More deaths are inevitable, with plenty of blood and gore; the suspense elements are ratcheted up and the showdown is epic. In the end, Dan saves one innocent life and obtains a few snippets of information to give him hope, enabling him to continue the search for his family.
A few quest series can be sustained over many books – the Dumarest saga being one – but most should be limited, and I feel that restricting Daniel Brady’s quest to six novels was probably the right decision. I’ll be following his progress in the next book, The Hexing.
The earlier books have been reviewed in this blog on the following dates:
#1 The stalking - 21 August 2015
#2 The Talisman - 20 November 2015
#3 The Ghost Dance - 27 November 2015