The Devils Labyrinth
by John Saul
Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Publisher: Pan, 2008
Thirty novels in as many years, is productivity not to be sniffed at and John Saul has created his own niche in the horror genre since the publication of “Suffer The Children” in 1977. You can read more details of his most recent novel “Faces Of Fear” at his official website.
What we have here is John Sauls previous novel, one which treads the murky path of religion where nothing is quite as it seems. This is the story of Ryan McIntyre, a schoolboy who is bullied by his classmates but manages to get a place at the much nicer St Isaac’s Catholic School, well much nicer for the first couple of minutes. It soon becomes apparent that St Isaac’s harbours an undercurrent of evil and a secret labyrinth underground is the place where it hangs out.
A couple of interesting twists keep the plot flowing but there are some uneasy plot devices at work here. Ryan frequently gets visions of his father who was killed in active service in Iraq. Later on we meet some bad Moslem’s, so is the whole thing some kind of anti-Muslim diatribe (the good guy an American soldier’s son, the evil guys radical Islamic terrorists), well it certainly seems that this must have been, at least partly in the back of John Saul’s mind. The muslims get us away from the same old story of Catholic church child abuse which it looks like we are heading for but it does take us into some weird and quite forced plot territory which I am not sure works that well.
Indeed it almost seems like John Saul has changed his original plot to suit the political climate and it doesn’t really come off, the basic structure is fine it is purely the pointless introduction of the Islamic terrorists and the fallen American hero, neither of which are vital, which serves to unsettle things and leaves the reader with quite a few unanswered questions. The writing, however, is in Saul’s usual tight style and the moments of horror action, well described and edge of the seat stuff. The characters, horror scenes and descriptive parts are all interesting and the book is an easy and entertaining read.
So not a bad book just a strange one, there’s nothing wrong with writers being political but when it appears to be squeezed into a plot just to make some kind of statement I don’t think it does the writer or the reader any favours.
Rating 3 out of 5