Vintage Review of The Burning by Graham Masterton

November 16, 2016


With a gas can in hand, a happy woman saunters up the street until she finds the perfect spot (in front of a Mickey D’s) and lights herself on fire. Intriguing from the onset, though waning some as fear of damage begins to dwindle, The Burning by Graham Masterton is a horror story entrenched the re-emergence of the Third Reich. An extra eerie time to read the tale given that half of America fell asleep last week and some fanatics, disgruntled hillbillies and generally gullible I-can-look-the-other-way-about-racism-but-not-about-emails-that-may-or-may-never-matter types voted a fascist dope named Donnie to be their next president.

The premise is something folks visit often in horror fiction and film, and why not? Hitler was a horrible dude and the things he did are of nightmares incarnate. Still, in the case of The Burning, the evilness falls a bit to the wayside and the hero spends an awful lot of time at first bettering a supernatural being attempting to hold him and then not understanding the obvious end game before him. Drawing from another well, this story snatches for Aboriginal magic and even mixes the cultures for the sake of a blind thirteen-year-old's spell book.

It gets hokey and the magical elements are far flung. There were moments of suspense and mystery, other times the horror played on disgust. Broken down, this is a tale of stopping the apocalypse and the unlikely hero is just a guy lucky enough not to be burned too badly.

Entertaining enough, the writing itself is strong, the story and its simple snatches at Nazis and then at Aboriginals left a bit to be desired, however 1991 was a different time and if you’re looking for Firestarter meets The Goonies, then The Burning might be your genre-fiction jammy-jam.

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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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