Return of the Monster with the Orange Afro

The Return by Bentley Little (2002): So far as I can tell, this is the prolific Little’s worst-reviewed novel. I thought it was great, though the gonzo, cuckoobanana stuff that I like probably turned a lot of people off. There haven’t been a lot of supernatural beings in the history of literature who spend a fair amount of time turning people into porcelain-statue versions of themselves, or a lot of horror novels in which people get attacked by animated Anasazi mortar-and-pestles, fetishes, shards of pottery and assorted knicknacks.

Actually, none that I can think of. This is the only mainstream horror novel I’ve ever read which could realistically be described in a cover blurb as “Stephen King meets The Flaming Carrot.”

Western writer Zane Grey (yes, the real Zane Grey) shows up early to be terrified by some crazy-ass something-or-other in Arizona back in the early 20th century. Then we jump to the present. Various Southwest-Native-American artifacts are starting to come to life across the Southwest. A mysterious monster kills a Boy Scout counselor. Dogs and cats are living together. Scary, non-human skeletons with still-growing orange afros have been excavated or found in various places. Denver is burning. Boulder is burning. Entire towns vanish from the map, never to return.

What eliminated the Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs, Anasazi, Olmecs and every other civilization ever, including perhaps the Hittites and Saxons? A race of superbeings with orange afros. And they are back with a vengeance!

Crazy shit happens. A plucky group of plucky people assemble to save humanity from these civilization-destroying creatures. Things get so rushed at the end that I’m going to assume editorial interference occurred. I’m not sure really how good this novel is, but it kept me reading quickly, and it was never boring. Recommended.

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