Jago. Book Review

jagoJAGO by Kim Newman

Titan Books, p/b, 512pp, £8.99

Reviewed by Carl Barker

Originally written back in 1991, this re-release of Kim Newman’s third novel is now accompanied by a handful of short stories which feature characters from the main story, albeit set in alternate universes.

Set in rural Somerset, the book comes across like an English Steven King, revolving around the dark goings on in a sleepy village community in the lead up to an open-air festival. Newman first draws a large cast of characters with which to populate his narrative and spends just the right amount of time fleshing each of them out, so that by the time he begins to flick between different people’s perspectives, the reader feels comfortable enough to follow along.

The eponymous Jago is not actually seen till the end of the book, Newman choosing instead to demonstrate his influence over events via his many followers and the strange changes taking place throughout the village. Whilst the back-cover blurb would have you believe that Paul and Hazel, a young couple recently arrived to the village, are the novel’s main protagonists, this is not really the case as by the time all hell begins to break loose, there are a large number of different factions vying for page space.

Newman brings a smorgasbord of different influences to the story, combining elements of The Wicker Man, War of The Worlds and Lord of Illusions with pagan mythology, time travel and various elements of body horror. It’s a slick ride and one that feels justly satisfied as things draw to a close, leaving you wondering if perhaps that Summer holiday to deepest, darkest Somerset might not be such a good idea after all.