Jane, a professional model, learns she’s pregnant by a B-list television star. She soldiers on alone, but while on an assignment posing for a cover of a book by a Yorkshire author her life begins to unravel: she glimpses a group of children in old-fashioned clothes who then disappear into thin air. Later, a nurse taking an ultrasound of Jane’s fetus is shaken by something she sees. And on top of it all Jane, a native Londoner, begins to affect a Yorkshire accent.
It’s a difficult pregnancy alright. But Jane’s a resourceful character; she does the research, and finds out the story behind the cover shoot that seemingly started the events, and learns her role in it all.
When there’s a baby on the way, it’s not too much of a leap to think of Rosemary’s Baby. A similar scenario plays out in Menace, but here it’s a rather convoluted scheme, even if it is solidly based on folklore (or, as I like to think, Iron Maiden‘s brilliant 1988 concept album). Nevertheless, the story starts out well – Jane, an admirably fleshed out character, is like a protagonist in a Ramsey Campbell novel, holding up bravely as her life gets increasingly weirder. It’s all good, with good characters, great atmosphere, an intriguing mystery, and a strong sense of, well, menace.
Sadly the ending doesn’t match; the subtlety is gone, far too much is explicitly spelled out, and the reveal proves to be both predictable and slightly over the top. But until then, it’s a good read.