Basilisk, Graham Masterton (Severn House)

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Horror veteran Masterton turns in another winner. Nathan Underhill is a medical researcher working on stem-cell analysis. His goal is to engineer mythological creatures genetically and use them to find cures for diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. Few writers would even undertake a novel with a premise as far-fetched as this one; fewer still would pull it off. Even when Underhill discovers that another researcher has succeeded where he has failed and that an actual, living basilisk (a creature that can kill with a glance) may be on a murder spree, the reader sticks right with the story, suspending disbelief utterly and eagerly turning the page to see what happens next. As usual, Masterton takes realistic human characters and puts them in a fantastic, horrific situation. We know this couldn’t possibly happen, but that doesn’t matter: in the context of the novel, it’s real, it’s happening, and it’s compelling. Horror fans should welcome this one with open arms.

This review originally appeared in Booklist, July 2009.

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