Sunday, May 4, 2008

First review! SATAN'S CHILD by Peter Saxon

Peter Saxon was a house name used by a clutch of British writers in the 60s and early 70s. The name was most notably used on a series about a team of supernatural detectives called "The Guardians," and for writing a novel called THE DISORIENTATED MAN that was filmed as that cinematic classic SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN.

This particular novel, written by Wilfred McNeilly in 1967, is a totally batshit crazy example of quasi-porno-gothic excess. It opens in Scotland, presumably in the 1700s, as the people of the village of Kinskerchan are parading Elspet Malcolm through the streets naked, on her way to be executed for witchcraft. Elspet is innocent, of course. She's merely a beautiful and free spirit who's being railroaded by the resentful and jealous women and priggish, self-righteous men of the village. Even her repressed, holier-than-thou husband is condemning her.

The book lingers almost lovingly on the descriptions of Elspet's torments, which only gives a hint of what's coming up. Her children Iain and Morag witness their mother burning and Iain swears revenge....REVENGE!

And then the fun begins.

Iain decides on irony, apparently. Although his mother was innocent of using the occult, he plunges himself into the Left Hand Path and eventually becomes a powerful adept. Upon completing his training at a monastery in India, he runs back to Scotland to start the wheels turning. He wants to eliminate all the people responsible for his mother's death.

SATAN'S CHILD is a fun novel for playing "Let's Count the Sins!" There's a near-rape of an underaged girl. There's murder. There's torture. There's a sort of cross-dressing. There's bestiality. There's greed. There's lust. There's pride. There's nudity and more nudity. There's inadvertent incest. There's a priest tricked into gambling on an altar. There's the formation of a witches' coven, with all the attendant orgies and debauchery. And finally Iain meets a powerful opponent who seems to be deliberately standing in his way.

The novel runs at a brisk pace, although the writing is nothing special. Still, it's good trashy fun. McNeilly seems to have done some research into the occult. Some of his occultist lingo seems pretty valid, and he includes the very naughty Talisman of Set (also found in Dennis Wheatley's THE DEVIL RIDES OUT) and all sorts of other fun.

I always scope for some Saxon titles when I'm browsing through a used book store, although I think I've just about reached the limit. Just about anything written under the Saxon moniker is worth checking out, although some are better than others. Look for other Saxon titles reviewed at (warning: loads of naughty pics on that site).

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