Book Review: The Keep, F. Paul Wilson

I was drawn to this book via the arty-but-incomprehensible ’83 movie adaptation directed by Michael Mann. I like “ancient evil” horror in general, and “ancient evil versus modern soldiers” especially. So the premise–which at first seemed to me rather like Nazis-vs-Cthulhu–was pretty exciting to me. The movie turned me off after about half an hour, but, intrigued, I bought the book, and read it. Or started to read it. The atmosphere is tense and foreboding and the premise artfully conceived. It all works quite well until the face of the evil inhabiting the titular Keep is finally revealed. I won’t include any spoilers, but I will say that I think Wilson has committed one of the classic horror blunders by not keeping us guessing for, well, quite a bit longer than he did. Stephen King called it “opening the door.” Wilson opens it too soon.

And too wide. The evil floating green cloud doesn’t necessarily have to have a face in it. And if it does, in the end, it doesn’t have to be just one. And it doesn’t have to be a human face. Spielberg was right about the shark: These things are scarier if hinted at, rather than detailed.

John Ford’s point, Monument Valley, Spring 2004

From a road trip with my father. Both he and I appear in the panorama. He photographed one angle with me in it, and I photographed one angle with him in it. Previously published at full resolution on one of my old pages.