And my December series on the best books to give marches on.I originally started this post with “I don’t read a lot of horror…” and then began listing the exceptions. As I moved rapidly through that list, I actually realized that I do, in fact, read a lot of horror. However, I must clarify that my initial assertion against the genre should actually be “I don’t read a lot of books that scare me.”
This one is an exception.My first exposure to F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep was in high school. I randomly stumbled on the direct-to-VHS movie version of this book, which is rich with now-famous faces (including Jurgen Prachnow, Scott Glenn, and a fairly young Ian McKellan) as well as an awesomely bad soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. My lifelong love of bad horror movies meant that this rather awful film had be at the first weird synthesizer note.
A few years later, I came across the novel at a yard sale and instantly purchased it. I was immediately drawn into the story of a garrison of German soldiers staying at a remote keep in Romania during World War II. The keep is something of a mystery, as its walls are lined with nickel crosses and the structure appears as if it was built to keep something in instead of out.In this keep, the soldiers learn to fear the dark as they are murdered by an unseen force one by one. The Reich sends in back up in the form of the SS, and a Jewish history professor with a special knowledge of the keep.
Beyond a simple scare, this book has a rich story full of moral questions, and lessons on how life is so seldom black and white.