I was trying to think of the last time I had as much fun as I did while reading Timelock by R.G. Knighton, and then it hit me: The year was 1987.
I was at the movies with a friend. The film we were seeing was Evil Dead II, Sam Raimi's campy-but-ingenious blood and gore classic. Evil Dead II is outrageously goofy but devilishly clever. It became an instant laugh-and-shock-a-minute classic. I still consider it to be among my personal "best movies of all time."
Devilishly clever, nutty, bloody, gory, funny and fun would well describe Timelock, which is actually a set of two novels.
The first book involves a group of twenty-something college students attending a second-tier, but upper crust British university. They began to dabble in occult practices and stumble into a way to open a portal into another time and dimension. Trouble ensues when malevolent spirits leap through the portal and attach themselves to the students.
Each student is now "infected" with evil forces from the distant past. A variety of nutty hijinks ensue. What's worse, one of the evil spirits is that of an extremely powerful witch with the wacky name of "Toomak." She has the power to bring about he return of the Antichrist -- Satan would be unchained resulting in the destruction of everything that is good, decent and holy forever.
While the first novel takes place in the 1980s, the second novel shifts the action to the ancient Mideast at the time of Jesus. In the end, the events of the first novel and the second converge in a climatic ending pitting a fierce battle between the forces of Good and Evil.
What really makes this a first rate novel is the author's superior ability to create interesting characters -- they are ordinary human beings with all the normal strengths and weaknesses of people we find in the real world.
Each character's motivations are shaped by their circumstances and background -- which the author inserts into the narrative with marvelous finesse and ease.
R.G. Knighton is a rare writer -- I believe he is a natural talent. He commands a razor-edged wit and a wonderful sense of sardonic irony. His ability to place ordinary people into extraordinary situations is what gives this book a breezy kind of power that doesn't pretend to be anything but sheer entertainment.
The humor of Timelock is dripping with cynicism. Yes, this is dark humor, but pleasant; it's like a premium dark chocolate with a tad of bitterness but ultimately sweet.