Book Review: The Keep by F. Paul Wilson

Reviewed by Tony Harrington

“Something is murdering my men.”

Thus reads the message received from a Nazi commander stationed in a small castle high in the remote Transylvanian Alps. Invisible and silent, the enemy selects one victim per night, leaving the bloodless and mutilated corpses behind to terrify its future victims.

When an elite SS extermination squad is dispatched to solve the problem, the men find something that’s both powerful and terrifying. Panicked, the Nazis bring in a local expert on folklore–who just happens to be Jewish–to shed some light on the mysterious happenings. And unbeknownst to anyone, there is another visitor on his way–a man who awoke from a nightmare and immediately set out to meet his destiny.

The battle has begun: On one side, the ultimate evil created by man, and on the other…the unthinkable, unstoppable, unknowing terror that man has inevitably awakened. -Publisher’s Description

It speaks volumes about an author when you can pick up one of their early novels that was written three decades ago and it feels as fresh and relevant as a contemporary novel. When this happens, and it is rare, the word “classic” comes to mind.

I know, that word is thrown about a little too freely these days, but I wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t applicable.

“The Keep” tells the story of a group of German soldiers who, while occupying a castle in the Romanian Alps, awaken a dark force that has been buried since before recorded time. Soon the platoon faces mysterious deaths, nightmares and the realization that they are not alone. Something dark, malevolent and with a thirst for human blood has made its presence known.

At his wit’s end and unsure of how to deal with the onslaught of violence against his men he writes the high command who in turn dispatches a Nazi captain and his extermination squad to the keep to get the situation under control. Upon their arrival the Nazi squad determines that there must be a Romanian interloper accessing the castle nightly and he rounds up a group of villagers and threatens to kill one each time a German is attacked. When mysterious messages appear on the walls of the keep in a language that died before Christ was born the Nazis turn to a sickly Jewish professor and his daughter to translate and figure out who the messages are from.

Add to the mystery and violence a red haired stranger who awakens on the night of the creatures release and is drawn to the keep by some unseen force intent on destroying the monster once and for all. Toss in a mix of Gothic horror, creepy shadows, walking dead, tragedies of war, and a staggering cosmic battle between good and evil and you have the makings of a novel that will blow you away.

“The Keep” is a terrifying excursion into a Lovecraftian-type world where the line between supernatural monsters and man-made monsters is blurred.

F. Paul Wilson’s narrative is crisp and tight and the tension between the characters is palpable as each page reveals new horrors; be it violence, ideological conflict, or the slow revelation that a simple painting is darker and more prophetic than the artist realizes.

“The Keep” is hands-down one of the most terrifying novels I have read in a long time. I read it years ago and I just read it again in its new trade paperback release and I can tell you, this is one supernatural tale that will haunt you long after you turn the last page.

Availability:,, and wherever fine books are sold.

Format: Trade Paperback & e-Book

Year Written: 1981

Author:  F. Paul Wilson

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