In Merridale, semi-transparent blue apparitions have appeared. These aren't ghosts, exactly. They are visions of the dead in their final moments - the last seconds of their lives portrayed for all to see. They don't move, and they don't speak.
Ash Wednesday is a thoughtful horror story about what happens to people when they are forced to gaze into the face of death and, specifically, the face of their own personal dead: their friends and family, those they believed to be dead and gone. Murders are revealed, rapes and other crimes. People despair, and try to create new lives out of the wreckage. Two of these are Bradley Meyers, a vet already driven half-crazy by his experiences in Vietnam, confronted by the sight of his dead son, and now barely capable of containing his rage, and Jim Callender, whose son has died in the same accident, for which he is partly responsible. As Callender sinks into guilt, Meyers moves toward murder.
This edition of Ash Wednesday contains a final portion that was not included with the book when it was first published. After the book appeared, the last chapter was published in Bill Munster's excellent small press magazine, Footsteps. The entire book as originally written appears here for the first time.
©1987 Chet Williamson (P)2010 CrossRoad Press
"In a genre that spawns imitation Stephen King almost as fast as King himself produces the real thing, Chet Williamson has done something powerful and new. You will be haunted by this book." (Orson Scott Card, Magazine of F&SF)
"A rich, carefully constructed novel about the ravages of guilt and about the real horror of life...grim, unrelenting, and compelling." (Michael Morrison, Fantasy Review)
"A strong if necessarily macabre and uncomfortable tale of moral import." (Fritz Leiber)
I started this one, but could not finish. I found the characters a bit depressing. Who cares if murderers and white supremecist wife abusers see the ghosts of dead people? I would've liked it more if it hooked me with decent sympathetic characters instead of bigots and cheats. Not my cuppa tea.
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