Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: April 27th, 2015

Plague of the ManitouYou have to remember that every tree and every rock and every river from one side of the country to the other harbors a Native American manitou. This is still their land, spiritually, even if we took it away from them. It’s like a haunted house. You may own the deeds, but the house itself still belongs to the ghosts.’

Graham Masterton’s debut as a horror author began with The Manitou in 1976. A harrowing story of the reincarnation of an Indian Medicine Man in modern day New York seeking retribution against the white man for what they did to his people. The book features the first appearance of the rogue fortune teller, Harry Erskine, who, with the help of medicine man, Singing Rock enters into battle against the shaman, Misquamacus.  The Manitou became an instant bestseller and was filmed with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg and Burgess Meredith.Plague of the Manitou is the seventh book in the Harry Erskine series and revisits the origins of the Manitou and the re-incarnation of an evil from centuries ago.A man is wheeled past virus expert Anna Grey’s lab violently convulsing as if wired to the mains, vomiting arterial blood and by the looks, in a seriously bad way. In death muscles relax but the sheer look of terror on his face after he’d passed was more than disturbing.

‘He’s deceased, but to look at him, you’d think that he still has the Devil breathing down his neck.’

When she’s alone examining the body, a voice whispers ‘save me’ and just like an ice cold fingertip traveling down her spine, her unease intensifies. Then another body, same MO and she is unwittingly thrust into a supernatural nightmare that will see her join forces with the now tarot card reader Harry Erskine.

Harry is just about to be kicked out of Miami after accepting a gift from an old lady that he really should have refused point blank. His tarot cards are changing of their own accord, death being the dominant theme and to top it off there’s a scary looking nun in his bedroom. Things don’t get much better from here on out for our friendly fortune teller, in fact they get decidedly worse in a life threatening fashion. As two supernatural entities combine to bring Hell to the people of America.

There’s the usual enjoyably disturbing sexual encounters, a tag team of bad guys that have formed an unlikely partnership with the primary goal of revenge and death. The reincarnation of evil is where it all begins, magic rituals carried out to revisit future life and wreak havoc. To rid America of its people and reclaim it for those most deserved. How they do it, well it’s horror all the way and two things are prevalent. One, you’ve probably never even considered the humble bed bug as a destructive malevolent force, well you will now and two, this reinforces the point that nuns are bloody creepy.

Plague of the Manitou was my first read in the Harry Erskine series and while you can appreciate there’s a lot of history I’ve missed out on, it’s easily readable as a stand-alone. Well-paced, engaging characters a story that flows relentlessly toward an apocalypse of biblical proportions and I shall definitely go back to the origins of the Manitou. If I had any complaints it would be the ending, the old ‘I’ll distract him while you sneak up behind him’ philosophy just doesn’t work as well in writing compared to the screen and it felt like taking the quickest and cheapest way out. That said if you’ve invested in this series before then you’ll enjoy this one.

Words: Paul Nelson

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