Continuing my series of horror novel reviews, I am delighted to share my reflections on Pamela Morris’ No Rest For The Wicked.
“Every ghost has a story. Not all of them want it told.
From beyond the grave, a murderous wife seeks to complete her revenge on those who betrayed her in life; a powerless domestic still fears for her immortal soul while trying to scare off anyone who comes too close; and the former plantation master – a sadistic doctor who puts more faith in the teachings of de Sade than the Bible – battle amongst themselves and with the living to reveal or keep hidden the dark secrets that prevent any of them from resting in peace.
When Eric and Grace McLaughlin purchase Greenbrier Plantation, their dreams are just as big as those who have tried to tame the place before them. But, the doctor has learned a thing or two over his many years in the afterlife, is putting those new skills to the test, and will go to great lengths in order to gain the upper hand. While Grace digs into the death-filled history of her new home, Eric soon becomes a pawn of the doctor’s unsavory desires and rapidly growing power, and is hell-bent on stopping her.
Enter the Winchester Society of Paranormal Research; could the solution lie within the humble ranks of this group of investigators? It seems unlikely, but the crew is eager to try. Is there any force powerful enough to put to rest the wickedness that demands complete control, not just over its ghostly adversaries, but the body and soul of Eric McLaughlin?”
No Rest For The Wicked is a haunted-house tale laced with Gothic imagery and filled with suspense and erotic interludes. A spooky house in need of renovating, a couple in love with the passion to do the repairs, a horrific backstory filled with terror, it’s a delicious mix that cannot fail to hit the mark. There is enough originality in themes and characterisation to hold the attention of every gothic horror fan.
In the historical backstory, Morris combines the issue of slavery with a malevolent doctor come funeral director – the house replete with its own embalming room – and a macabre tale of intrigue, betrayal and murder that explains the nature of the spirits haunting Grace and Eric’s home.
Dread infuses the story from the first page, and a steady build unfolds as Morris deploys good plotting and pacing along with some satisfying twists. Thick descriptions in combination with light touches of foreshadowing serve to cloak the reader in the story.
Morris has created well-crafted and believable characters in Grace and Eric, and in the ghosts but it is the antagonist, Mr Addams, who steals the show. He is as lecherous, misogynistic and debased as they come and through him, Morris portrays brilliantly outmoded sexist attitudes of men and their view of women as sexual playthings, the sorts of attitudes many today would find medieval. Bringing his bigotry into the 21st century through the lens of Eric is Morris’ masterstroke.
“They’re like so many hens conspiring against us thinking they know best”, sums up Mr Addams’ attitude and underscores the premise of the book. Eric, a man carrying a few prejudices of his own, is brought into a tortuous inner conflict as he acts out the script Mr Addams’ has planned. Will Mr Addams succeed in his wicked objectives, or will a group of paranormal researchers quell his evil soul?
No Rest For The Wicked is a riveting read, perfect for cold winter nights or for relaxing on vacation, although it is probably best not to pick it up if you find yourself in an old run down house somewhere in Virginia.
No Rest For The Wicked is available on all platforms.