Sackett, Jeffrey 1949-
SACKETT, Jeffrey 1949-
PERSONAL: Born 1949; married; children: Victoria, Elizabeth. Education: Three M.A. degrees (European history, East Asian history, and education); earned a Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bantam Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Writer and educator. Has worked as a college history professor and high school teacher.
Stolen Souls, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Candlemas Eve, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Blood of the Impaler, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Mark of the Werewolf, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1990.
The Demon, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Stolen Souls, Candlemas Eve, Blood of the Impaler, and The Demon, have been translated into German.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and high school teacher Jeffrey Sackett is the author of five novels in the horror genre. A former seminary student who studied for the ministry for two years, Sackett traces his interest in horror to classic film and literary monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula, he stated in an online interview with Hunter Goatley on Goatley.com.
Four of Sackett's novels borrow tropes and concepts from classic movie monsters that have haunted generations of filmgoers. In his books, Sackett's "prose style and plot structure were entertaining," and the author's works showed "steady improvement from one volume to the next," commented a biographer in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. In Stolen Souls, an upstate New York museum makes a prize archaeological acquisition: seven Egyptian sarcophagi, complete with intact mummies. However, a shadowy cult of Egyptians considers this sacrilege. They intend to not only recover the burial objects, but to reanimate the mummies through blood sacrifice. The St. James Guide writer remarked that the novel provides "occasional moments of genuine suspense" as the storyline unfolds.
At a low point in his musical career, entertainer Simon Proctor meets two extremely beautiful women who guide him back to success in Candlemas Eve. Delighted at the upturn in his fortunes, Simon's happiness crumbles when he learns that his lovely advisors are actually ancient witches seeking revenge on people who did them wrong in their previous incarnations.
Blood of the Impaler is "Sackett's best novel technically," the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers essayist stated. A sequel of sorts to Bram Stoker's Dracula, the story follows Malcolm Harker as he reconstructs a contentious piece of family history. Malcolm finds that one of his ancestors is Jonathan Harker, a real person who served as the basis for Stoker's classic novel. Certain physical afflictions, such as Malcolm's aversion to sunlight, lend credence to the family story. After locating the gravesite of Lucy Westenra, whose corpse is pinned to her coffin with a stake through the heart, Malcolm revives her with his own blood. Worse, he discovers that all his recent actions have been part of an orchestrated plot to revive Dracula himself. "Sackett does an excellent job of managing the slow building of tension, primarily by keeping Dracula offstage for most of the book and by concentrating on Malcolm, whose character is strongly developed," the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers contributor observed. The book's "internal logic allows for surprises but never disappoints," commented Cathy Krusberg in a review on the Austin Web Publishing Web site.
Even a supernatural creature can tire of existence, and in Mark of the Werewolf, an ancient, immortal, but weary werewolf seeks the peace of eternal rest. While searching for a way to destroy himself, Janos Kaldy realizes that a group of right-wing military extremists have learned of his existence and want to use him to create a powerful army of creatures that they alone can control. The "juxtaposition of two very different evils works well, although the atmosphere is much more that of a straightforward adventure novel than a tale of horror," the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers essayist wrote. Publishers Weeklycontributor Penny Kaganoff called the book "absorbing and imaginative," while a reviewer for SimeGen.com remarked that Mark of the Werewolf "defines the essence of the werewolf novel."
Sackett's 1991 novel, The Demon, "is also his best," the St. James Guide writer noted. Vernon Sweet, a retired circus performer, is a hideously ugly man who made his living as Grogo the Goblin, a sideshow geek. Shunned as a freak in the small town where he now lives, Vernon finds suspicion falling on him when a series of murders occurs in the community. A mob gathers with the intention of hanging Sweet from the nearest tree, but to their detriment, they discover that the Vernon Sweet they knew is actually a shell containing a meticulously restrained demonic spirit that is now prodded to action by the mob. The St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers contributor concluded that "this is far and away Sackett's most original, powerful, and suspenseful novel."
Sackett told CA: "I began to work on these five books, which form in a sense a series, after reading an interview with Stephen King. In that interview he commented that he disliked the Stanley Kubrick film of his novel The Shining, and expressed the opinion that Kubrick could not make a film that takes evil seriously because Kubrick … was … an atheist. That started me thinking of writing stories that would actually be avenues for the exploration of theological themes within a framework of horror fiction. Each of my books seeks to do that.
"My favorite of my books is Blood of the Impaler; it required the most detailed research, and, building as it did upon Bram Stoker's classic, had an unbeatable foundation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 1987, John Mutter, review of Stolen Souls, p. 63; January 5, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of Mark of the Werewolf, p. 70.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1990, review of Blood of the Impaler, p. 374.
Austin Web Publishing Web site, http://www.awpi.com/ (May 23, 2005), Cathy Krusberg, review of Blood of the Impaler.
Goatley.com, http://www.goatley.com/ (May 23, 2005), Hunter Goatley, interview with Sackett.
SimeGen.com, http://www.simegen.com/ (August, 1993), review of Mark of the Werewolf.