Gray, Muriel The Ancient

ISBN 13: 9780002253147

The Ancient

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9780002253147: The Ancient

Alien, on a container ship.
‘Scary and unputdownable. ‘ Stephen King

Amongst towering mountains of trash in the backstreets of Lima, three young boys are trying to raise an ancient demon. They don't think their incantation has worked; but that night a teenage drugrunner is gunned down across their makeshift altar. As his killers walk away, his body stirs. Not because it still contains a spark of life. But because something is stirring beneath it…

Port Callao. The MV Lysicrates, a three-quarter-mile long supertanker, is being loaded with hundreds of tonnes of trash. Watching from the bridge, in a bleary state of hungover gloom, is second-in-command Matthew Cotton; more interesting is the arrival of a young American student who has missed the boat she should have been on.

They should have paid more attention to the trash.

With its powerful blend of superb characterisation and demonic horror, Muriel Gray's new novel is her best yet.

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Review:

When an author is equally well known as a broadcaster, it can certainly help in promoting their books. But in the author of The Ancient, Muriel Gray's case, it could be said to be something of a liability. Gray is best known as a highly intelligent, energetic and cheerful TV presenter--and certainly the last person one might think capable of producing such an effectively chilling supernatural outing as The Ancient. But that's just what she's done.

This highly atmospheric tale combines the subtle, allusive prose style of such masters of the past as MR James with a more contemporary emphasis that suggests Clive Barker. In the grim, rubbish-strewn back streets of Lima, three boys are attempting to raise an ancient demon. Their incantations fail (so they think), but on the same night a drug dealer is killed over their impromptu altar. And anyone who has ever watched a Hammer film will know what effect the shedding of blood has on dormant monsters. Gray then relocates her narrative to the massive supertanker, Lysicrates, where the beleaguered second-in-command Matthew Cotton is intrigued by the arrival of a young American student. Soon, both are involved in the horror that came aboard with the hundreds of pounds of rubbish that the ship is carrying. Much carnage ensues before a decisive final confrontation.

Muriel Gray's particular achievement in The Ancient is to reinvigorate a genre suffering from chronic overload. Her supernatural menace may be nothing out of the ordinary, but she surrounds it with such a world of persuasively grim detail and (most importantly) well-rounded characters that the reader is comprehensively gripped.--Barry Forshaw

Review:

‘Scary and unputdownable. If you’re going to read a single suspenser this year make it this one’ Stephen King

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