Okay--I just finished reading Hands of Lucifer
by John Tigges. And I think it may actually be the worst novel I've read in my life.
To be fair, Tigges does do one thing well: his descriptions of supernatural occurrences are sometimes quite effective. There's a scene in which a woman is beaten to death by a demon which is especially freaky. So, full marks for that.
The problem with the book is--well, everything else.
To begin with, the writing is just bad
. It commits the cardinal sin of the novelist, by telling, instead of showing. And I found some actual grammatical mistakes in a few places. For example:
"I've been thinking about what Father Gorkland said. He seems to feel that I've imagined a lot of the stuff that went on around here. The smells. Contributing normal things like the water pipes breaking and things like that to some devious entity or person."
'Contributing' is the wrong word: he meant to say 'attributing.' In another passage, Tigges actually says 'nothing' when he meant to say 'something.'
Stacey kept talking, rambling on about about Jesus, her Saviour, and her own personal direct contact, the Reverend Eddie John Stangood. But Nicole heard nothing else, entwining with the words of the girl seated opposite her. It sounded more like a far off, distant siren, moaning and groaning as it built in intensity
That first passage above highlights another problem: Tigges seems completely incapable of writing believeable dialogue. Who the hell uses words like 'attributing' in real-life conversations? A lot of the dialogue would have sounded stilted and phony, even coming from an academic--instead of, say, a TV announcer, as in this case:
"Look here, Father Gorkland, I don't have time to be arguing moot points of theology or about mankind's behavior today. Nicole and I have a real problem."
Tigges' characterization is equally bad. Although the two main characters, Myles and Nicole, are semi-believeable, the secondary characters all seem to be made out of cardboard. His characterizations of religious ministers like the above-mentioned Father Gorkland are especially poor. I despise evangelical televangelists, and I even I found Tigges' caricature of one--the Reverend Stangood--objectionable.
The story is just a third-rate rehash of The Exorcist
by way of Poltergeist
--it even features the demon swearing at the exorcist during the climactic exorcism--and yet Tigges seems to think he's doing something fresh and original. How do I know this? He actually includes advertisements for his own books in his book!
Never--not once in all the years that he had been a priest of God and Jesus--had the idea of possession ever been mentioned to him by anyone outside ordinary conversation. He had even read the more lurid novels concerning the subject. The Exorcist had caused quite a flap when it was published, but the one he had enoyed the most had been Garden of the Incubus, which had seemed the more accurate and better researched of the two.
I suppose it's possible that an editor inserted this passage, and others like it, but I would have thought even a hack writer would have more self-respect than to allow something like that.
Add the cheap final 'boo!' at the end, and you have a book that's almost completely lacking in redeeming qualities. Maybe not quite the My Immortal
of horror fiction, but close. What a steaming heap of shit.