There is a red and angry world. Red things happen there. The world eats your wife. And eats your friends. It eats all the things that make you human. And iThere is a red and angry world. Red things happen there. The world eats your wife. And eats your friends. It eats all the things that make you human. And it turns you into a monster.
As a youth I didn’t get Swamp Thing. And reading this as an adult it’s rather easy to see why. Before I get into any details, I have to just say that the prose in here is breathtakingly beautiful at times. This is not a book for children; it is a book for people who have seen a bit of the world and have experienced some loss, some fear, some responsibility, some of the things that come with adulthood. Because, frankly: how else could you identify with what happens here?
It is also not a conventional “superhero” story by any definition. Consider the following:
Moore's Swamp Thing had a profound effect on mainstream comic books, being the first horror comic to approach the genre from a literary point of view since the EC horror comics of the 1950s, and he broadened the scope of the series to include ecological and spiritual concerns while retaining its horror-fantasy roots - Wikipedia
Ecological and spiritual concerns? As a child this was far, far removed from my mind. Other than that, there are a multitude of things writhing beneath the (thin) veneer of “superhero” story: the nature of good and evil, what it means to be human, friendship and love, the effect of fear et al… (consider, for example, the story and eventual fate of the Monkey King). I should also mention the complex relationships between Alec Holland and his handful of friends, and specifically Abigail. And now I have.
It's raining in Washington tonight. Plump, warm summer rain that covers the sidewalks with leopard spots. Downtown, elderly ladies carry their houseplants out to set them on the fire-escapes, as if they were infirm relatives or Boy Kings.
Sometimes hopeful, sometimes bizarre, often crushingly depressing, but always beautiful. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one of the best examples of this type of thing that I have read in, well, probably ever.
He’ll be pounding on the glass right about now… …or maybe not now. Maybe in a while. But he’ll be pounding. And… And will there be blood? I like to imagine so. Yes, I rather think there will be blood. Lots of blood. Blood in extraordinary quantities.
It gets violent, yes. And quite so at times. But not in the most likeliest of ways. I was often surprised at the turns that the story takes. It really is a marvellously atmospheric Southern Horror. And, in a stroke of ingenuity, the artwork is often just as bizarre and off-beat as the rest of the affair.
It’s quite apparent that Moore was very careful to not walk the same ground that other writers were covering. He was taking the road less travelled.
And, even though they don’t really feature in the story, describing the Justice League:
There is a house above the world, where the over-people gather. There is a man with wings like a bird. There is a man who can see across the planet and wring diamonds from its anthracite. There is a man who moves so fast that his life is an endless gallery of statues. In the house above the world, the over-people gather... And sit... And listen... ...To a dry, mad voice that whispers of Earthdeath.
So what is the down side here? Nothing really, but I do think readers have to at least bear the following in mind: Alan Moore only came aboard for the second run of this series, which means that by the time this book kicks off all the fundamentals had already been covered. That’s to say, Moore didn’t create Swamp Thing and he doesn’t tell the Origins story of the character. This had come before, and, since I haven’t read that yet, I do not know how that differs from, or impacts on, this particular part of the Swamp Thing mythos.
Have you ever been under? All the way under? Like I have? Oh like I have? - John Hiatt ...more
I’ve long been meaning to read The Keep. It is the first in the Adversary Cycle, and ties in with the (later) RepairmanHe was dead. And yet not dead.
I’ve long been meaning to read The Keep. It is the first in the Adversary Cycle, and ties in with the (later) Repairman Jack novels. I have also seen it mentioned on numerous top-ten lists pertaining to Vampire Horror (although, to be fair, the author is very specific about the nature of his antagonist – but this is spoiler territory so I won’t go there).
So, does it live up to expectation?
Something in that air caused the hair on his arms and at the base of his neck to stand on end.
If you have read any of the Repairman Jack novels, you will already know what to expect from this book, although admittedly The Keep leans more toward straightforward horror whereas the Jack books follow a genre mishmash template. That said, you will not often feel too upset when characters get killed, since they’re mostly portrayed as fairly villainous themselves.
Something as dark and as cold as the chamber he had entered was awake and hungry and beside him.
I found this to be a fairly visual read, that’s to say it would probably make for a good film what with all the fantastic set pieces, not to mention the World War II backdrop. There are scenes here that are genuinely eerie and / or scary. What’s more, at times the story is quite ingenious, especially the concepts of Light and Chaos that the author introduces.
He was no longer in command of the keep. Something dark and awful had taken over.
Two gripes. There is a love story here that feels forced and awkward. It certainly has a place in the story, but at times the author lathers it on a bit thick and the fluttery-eyed sugary-sweet gloop is hard to stomach. In my experience when it comes to this sort of thing less is more.The second gripe that I do have comes from a rather abstract place. The cover art of the new Tor editions are rather unimaginative and, frankly, boring. I much prefer the artwork of some of the older editions.
She would fear the dark forever.
In closing, there are some nice conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure. You know, just to thicken the broth.
The Keep is a fairly solid entry in the Vampire Horror genre. Added bonus: it has some novelty value, especially if you already read Repairman Jack.
3.5 stars (which I have to round, because Goodreads doesn’t give me any other option)