Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-033-0
The Dover Demon is an urban legend in the Massachusetts town of Dover, but this doesn’t stop cryptozoologists and other busybodies from showing up now and then to find out whether this creature really exists. For locals Sam Brogna and his friends Tank Clay, Tank’s wife Stephanie, and Kelly Weathers, however, they know that the Dover Demon exists. They encountered it when they were teenagers, and none spoke of the incident. Now, they are all in their fifties, and it looks like the Dover Demon may be coming back to them. Running away isn’t an option, not when Sam’s son Nicky and Nicky’s friend Christine vanish later in the story, most likely in the clutches of you-kn0w-who.
The author spends some time setting up the main characters’ sometimes not-so-functional lives, which is a good move as it not only allows me to have a good idea of who and what these main characters are, but this also allows for some skilfully done mounting of tension and creepy suspense as I turn the pages. The main characters are all on the stock horror story archetype side, but I can live with them. I’m more interested in the creepy stuff. Is the monster real? Is the whole thing a conspiracy that would make Fox Mulder salivate? Well, I can’t wait to find out…
You know what they say about being careful of what you wish for – as soon as the monster is unmasked, that’s when The Dover Demon sort of falls apart a bit at the seams for me. The problem here is this: the author has taken a very interesting piece of Sumerian folklore, legend, or whatever you choose to call it, to incorporate it into this story. However, I feel that there could have been more details included by the author to make this interesting aspect of the story really come to life. Unless the reader is familiar with it, or take pains to Google it up after, the whole creepy stuff may just end up being another tale of monsters gone wild. The details would have helped distinguish this brand of creepy from, say, the small town creepy found in Clive Barker’s stories or those found in HP Lovecraft’s. It’s quite a shame, therefore, that these details never really come together to help the creepy here stand out and come to life more. At best, they come off as generic creepy stuff, and at worst, readers may end up wondering why Sumerian creepy come to end up in a Massachusetts town.
Oh well. As it is, The Dover Demon is a perfectly adequate read, although the characters’ rather underwhelming personalities make it hard for me to care for their fates. Still, it’s a shame that the brand of spook in this story never become as memorable or chilling as it could have been. I think I’m actually far more interested in what happens to Nicky after this story.