Ghoul was originally published in 1980 under the name Mark Ronson. Fast forward to 2016 and the same story is published under the name Marc Alexander. Why? I have no clue. But what I do know is that Ghoul is one of the better pulp horror to come out of the early 1980s. It reminds me greatly of the type of slow-burn horror that J.N. Williamson or Charles Grant used to write and there are days that I miss that style. So, if you're one that likes that kind of horror...
In the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Abu Sabbah, Julia Sword is an archeologist that discovers a sealed tomb after a landslide uncovers it in the Valley of the Jinn. Sound spooky? It's supposed to. It seems that this valley was named after King Solomon had a problem with an evil Jinn and had the power to seal it away so that it wouldn't cause any more trouble. Add a few thousand years and Julia is on the brink of busting open this hidden tomb thinking that it contains an unknown Egyptian mummy. Her rich father is the bankroll for this expedition and Julia has an admirer in the King of Abu Sabbah, King Hamid. It all plays like a female Howard Carter scenario. In fact, Carter is mentioned a couple of times throughout the telling. Now, throw in the Middle Eastern version of The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond type, Israeli Head of Intelligence, Moshe Leohr and the Arabian spy love interest, Leliah, as well as the evil uncle hell bent on taking over, Sheikh Ahmid. If that wasn't enough, we have a tall drink of water love interest for Julia, named Andrew, and a Manson-like cult hanging out in the valley just waiting for shit to go down with the opening of the tomb. Last, but certainly not least, we have an attempt by the bad guy uncle to extract information out of the Israeli by hooking up a set of jumper cables to his balls. Yes, that would make me sing like a canary and throw my own mother under the bus, if that was what was needed to bring that particular torture to a stop.
While my description does sound a bit hokey, it actually works better than what you'd think. The story really does have a nice slow burn to it with a decent payoff at the end. Yes, the King is unlike anything you'd hear about in the Middle East on CNN today (or in 1980, for that matter). Things are a little too liberal and friendly to the English to be believable, but it is a fun, pulpy horror offering that screams I'm From The Eighties. Pop some popcorn, don't think too much about the holes, and enjoy the ride!
4 Hidden Tombs out of 5
*This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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