Gothic

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Sloan, Stewart. (1994b.) The Sorceress. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Horrors.

 The novel is divided into two books, the first set in 1958 and the second in 1989.

Book One recounts how John McAlister and his friend John Turner, both veterans of WWII, become caught up in a battle against the Sorceress, in Ngong Ping on Lantau island. Years before, the Sorceress had threatened and manipulated the farmers of the region until a group of them, led by a wise man named Lim, stood up to her and burned her in her house. Lim had already encountered her in a previous incarnation on mainland China when she had been a young girl whose father was a warlocd and the whole family was killed. She now returns in 1958 to seek revenge on her murderers. Turner (now a policeman) is married to the daughter of one of the Sorceressís victims, and McAlister had dated the other daughter, Mei-Mei. Since the womenís father is dead,  the Sorceress pursues the two men in his stead.

 When the book opens, McAlister is verging on destructive alcoholism following the suicide of Mei-Mei.  While Turner had refused to be cowed by the threat and fact of ostracism because he married a Chinese woman, McAlister had been afraid  to marry Mei-Mei when she became pregnant (causing her to kill herself). He has bad dreams which are ominous and, in fact, are warnings of what is about to occur. Turner, who has been posted to Ngong Ping to investigate a murder (the Sorceressís first victim), refuses to take McAlisterís premonitions seriously, putting it down to the alcohol. Turner falls victim to the Sorceress but McAlister manages to escape with the help of Lee, a monk and  one of the gang who  murdered the Sorceress in her home on Lantau prior to the war. Lee had been a servant of Lim, and following the murder of the Sorceress, Lee devoted himself to spiritual preparation for her vengeful return. He and McAlister finally take on the Sorceress in the ruins of her pre-war home and defeat her through the power of prayer.

In Book Two, the Sorceress returns once more to finally destroy McAlister and Lee. Lee has retired to mainland China. McAlister has retired to Hong Kong Island and has an adult son, James, who has certain powers of clairvoyance. James and his father John are both struck by a sense of foreboding, and John is convinced the sorceress has returned. James thinks his father is going mad but they return to Lantau at his fatherís suggestion. Meeting Lee in the monastery, their foreboding corroborates each otherís and they prepare to do battle with the Sorceress. Meanwhile, the Sorceress, having firstly inhabited the body of a construction worker on Lantau travels to the mainland and takes over the body of Grace Lui, a high class brothel keeper. She has been  granted, by the Lords of Hell, a Howler (mystical bloodthirsty beast) to assist her. She preys upon a corrupt monastery and having killed one monk, forces the others to chant an infernal liturgy which gives her the power to transform herself into a spirit bat, in which form she can seek out Lee and John. Tracking the men to Lantau, she seduces first a monk whom she brainwashes and orders to capture James and to kill John and Lee. The novice monk is rather ineffectual however. James is taken back to a boarding house and seduced by the Sorceress. John and Lee follow in hot pursuit and finally attempt to do battle with the Sorceress. Both being old and their powers feeble, they seem to be losing when the boarding house is surrounded by monks praying a liturgy of light which destroys the Sorceressís power. They set fire to her, and Lee, also aflame, beheads her and goes with her into the depths of hell, holding onto her ankles to ensure she never comes back to earth again. (KB)

 
 
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