The Oni

by Gordon Linzner


“Imprisoned for thousands of years in the hilt of a ceremonial sword, the oni, a hideous Japanese demon, is accidentally released to wreak the havoc of its pent-up fury on an unsuspecting world. All-powerful, immortal, and possessed of an unquenchable lust for human blood, the demon seems invincible, leaving in its wake an increasing number of horribly mutilated bodies.

Only one woman has learned the oni’s history and the key to its destruction. But will she be able to pit her puny human strength against the demon’s murderous powers before she becomes yet another victim?”

My Review

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a horror story—although that’s how I started my writing career. The Oni is just the kind of horror story I enjoy: gritty realism meets ancient evil—The Mummy kind of story. There are tons of setting and period details in both the modern and ancient Japan strands of the story, interesting and diverse characters, and a truly terrifying monster. Linzner writes this horror/fantasy like a tight police procedural: not a lot of fancy language, but with plenty of nail-biting tension and character insight. There are even some lighter moments as the evil oni tries to apply his ancient cultural biases to 1982 Manhattan.

The author obviously did his homework on the historical pieces. Seventh Century Japan comes alive with characters from all classes—imperial courtiers, local nobles, village priests, servants, soldiers, craftsmen. The modern story features police officers, a grieving mother, museum curators, a lecherous photographer (a candidate for the “Me Too” movement), and numerous petty criminals. Having lived in the neighborhood where the story is set, I can vouch for the authenticity of the details dealing with the New York City parks, crowds, and subways. Linzner, a native New Yorker, is spot on.

A minor warning—this is a horror story. There are gory death scenes, rape, sodomy, and implied child abuse. Most of the worst is done “off-screen” and we get a milder description of the aftermath. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. I fully admit to being squeamish about graphic violence. This book had just the right amount of spine tingling danger without gratuitous gore. A quick absorbing read.

Note: I received an eBook copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Gordon Linzner is the author of three published novels and over a score of short stories, which have appeared in such venues as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine. He is also the editor-emeritus of Space & Time Magazine, the oldest extant small-press genre fiction magazine, having published continuously (if sometimes sporadically) since 1966. He freelances as a copy editor and a licensed New York tour guide, does story-telling (especially around All-Hallow’s Eve), does sporadic sound work, and can find inappropriate song cues in any spare scrap of conversation. You can connect with Gordon online through his Facebook page. Here’s Gordon, in tour guide mode, taking us across the Brooklyn Bridge:

Book Details:

  • Title: The Oni
  • Author: Gordon Linzner
  • eBook Publisher: Crossroad Press (July 2, 2018)
  • Price: $3.99
  • Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Leisure Books (April 1, 1986 – out of print)
  • Print Length: 283 pages