The Keep is the Alien vs. Predator of horror: Nazis vs. Vampires. I wanted to read something by F. Paul Wilson, and this was one of the few on the library shelf that wasn’t a sequel to something else. I don’t want to give away the ending, but suffice it to say that it strays into Highlander territory when the mystery of the eponymous keep is finally explained.
On the plus side, it was a page turner and a quick read. On the minus side, one of the main threads of the novel is the alleged gradual corruption of a main character by the nameless evil which dwelleth in the keep, and it failed. Yes, the character got corrupted, but the process wasn’t gradual enough for me to catch it. Somewhere near the end of the novel, uncorrupted character A says to uncorrupted character B see how so-and-so was slowly corrupted by the nameless evil which dwelleth in the keep? and B replies yeah, tragic that. (I’m paraphrasing here.) The corruption wasn’t sufficiently distinct from stupidity for such an important plot point.
Also on the minus side is the Nameless Red-Haired Man who dwelleth nowhere. I call him the Nameless Red-Haired Man because the author referred to him constantly as the red-haired man. Why he didn’t go with ‘redhead’ and give him a pseudonym earlier on is beyond me. Nameless spends much time approaching the keep, then hanging around the keep, without ever becoming a full-fledged character. Of all the cast he is the least fleshed-out, even though it’s clear from his first appearance that he’s a main character.
Our Heroine got the most fleshing-out, although she was also a stereotypical good guy in certain ways. Her attitude was both too Victorian and too modern for her background, but she overcame those handicaps by having plenty of specific characteristics and feelings. Her father and the two German officers also did well, especially in the beginning.
Overall, I’d say that the author was working at cross purposes with the supernatural horror. It wasn’t clear whether the Nameless Evil killing Nazis was all that evil, whether it was supernatural or natural, whether it represented Evil or Chaos, and why Chaos was worse than Non-Chaos. I was interested by the story, but I wasn’t horrified. I’ll have to try a medical thriller of his next time.