Douglas Clegg’s “Goat Dance”

A Must Read 300Several years ago I had a friend recommend a book, saying that it was a horror story that I would love. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the book and have been searching off and on for the name ever since. In a sudden, random rush I finally remembered the name of the book this past week, so I, naturally, went to my local bookstore immediately, lest I forget again. My worrying was unnecessary, because the title of the book will be seared into my skull for a good long time, much like many scenes in the book itself. Douglas Clegg’s Goat Dance is perhaps one of the most twisted books I’ve ever read. The story’s setup is fairly familiar. A young man, Cup, returns to his quiet little hometown of Pontefract, Virginia, where a horrific incident took place years earlier. Soon, Cup discovers that the town is falling prey to a nightmarish evil, and Cup must find a way to keep his life and his sanity as Pontefract falls further under the influence of evil.

Like I said, the basic setting is fairly familiar to horror fans. In fact, most horror authors have at least one book with such a setting. Stephen King may have the most famous example with Salem’s Lot. Fortunately, Clegg doesn’t follow conventional horror tropes with this novel. Without giving too much away about the antagonist, I’ll just say that while not everything in this book is original, Clegg certainly makes it feel unique. Clegg manages to excel in detailing some truly horrifying scenes. Being an avid horror reader, there are very few things that freak me out anymore, so I was extremely pleased with Goat Dance for succeeding so many times. In terms of writing, Clegg is no Ray Bradbury: this is not a work of subtlety, so much as a screaming wind-sprint through the Forest of Suicides from Dante’s The Inferno. While he is certainly a competent writer, I can’t really think of any truly quotable lines. That being said, he has a knack for the disturbing, so I will vividly remember many scenes from Goat Dance for years to come. In the end, that is one of the greatest things a horror novel can accomplish. While Douglas Clegg’s Goat Dance may not be remembered in the annals of history as the pinnacle of horror writing, it is an immensely creepy book that fans of horror deserve to check out. If you are like me, finishing Goat Dance will be such a refreshing change of pace that you will be looking for more of Clegg’s work.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor