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The Right Hand of Evil

Author: John Saul
Published: 1999
Review by: CL4 Kaysa

The Conway family is in deep financial trouble. Ted Conway would rather knock back bourbon than support his family, and Janet Conway's career as an artist is going nowhere. Happily, the three Conway children--toddler Molly and 15-year-old twins Jared and Kimberley--seem well adjusted. Of course, happy children do not make for good horror material, so dark times are just around the corner.

Ted receives an unexpected call from a Louisiana sanatorium, where his aged Aunt Cora is dying. Cora wants to convey a final message to her only surviving family members. She rasps out the ominous words, "I can see it. Stay away! Stay away from here!" Her words are futile--the financially strapped Ted moves his family into Cora's old house, a house deeded to them in a family trust.

Young Kimberley instantly feels a dark presence in the dilapidated Victorian house: "Suddenly her skin was crawling, as if a large insect were creeping across her neck." Tragedy upon tragedy strikes the family. Kim's beloved cat disappears and is sacrificed in a black-magic ceremony; an evil presence takes over Jared's mind--transforming him into the most rotten of bad seeds; the wails of a dead infant fill Kim's head, driving her to the edge of insanity. The family has fallen victim to a centuries-old curse--a curse that threatens to wipe out the Conway name.

There's evil lurking in this house and it's possessing family members. Not exactly a new idea, expecially for John Saul. I remember falling asleep a couple of times during reading this book, not exactly a good sign.

One of the things I didn't like is that I was never really sure why the family was cursed with such evil in the first place. I understood the idea that once it was brought on the family it was continued until they could break free but the story never said why it was brought on the family.

I find that now Mr. Saul is repeating his work. His first books were excellent, very original for their time, but the stories get old. I think maybe John Saul should take a break from writing, or write something different, while his "creative juices" get to work on his next masterpiece.