Daniel is being haunted. The ghost just wants someone
to acknowledge its death, but instead nearly leads Daniel to the same
fate. Then there is Wendy, whose grasp on (and in) reality seems
shaky at best, and whose disappearance goes almost unnoticed.
Much of the horror in Virgins and Martyrs is simply the
depressing residue of living and of other people's lives. The author
writes an excellent description of Daniel's new room, overpainted and
cheap, with a sagging mattress, and hair and newspaper clippings left
by the previous tenant. Maginn unfolds the suspense delicately; even
the grotesquerie of decaying bodies, cleverly presented in the guise
of old manuscripts, is secondary to the bizarre circumstances under
which Daniel reads them.
Virgins and Martyrs reads like a feverish dream, sticky and
disturbing. It is a perfect example of being able to like how
an author writes without liking what he writes.
This review copyright 1996 by Wendy Morris