Family Portrait – Graham Masterton

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“Family Portrait” is another book that left some pictures strongly imprinted in my mind. This book comes across as Masterson’s appreciation of Oscar Wild novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” which Masterton skillfully involves in his story by moving the action back to XIX century as if Wilde was inspired by the action depicted in Masterton’s book.
The novel starts us off with a rather brutal murder of a young girl who travelled by means of hitchhiking. She had been skinned and what is worse is the fact it wasn’t a first instance of such crime. It appears someone starts a collection of human skins. One might wonder why?
We meet Vincent, who is intelligent and well mannered. He keeps himself busy by means collecting and selling paintings. He spends most of his time in his own gallery where he feels just right.
Vincent doesn’t realise that a painting that has been in his family for years is full of magic powers. The painting draws attraction of its rightful owners who will change Vincent’s life forever when they come after what is theirs.
Similarity to Wilde’s story, the painting in question has a power of keeping the owners young as long as they can proceed with their rituals in front of it making the portrait age instead.
Since the dangerous family lost the painting they need to start using human skin instead which isn’t the best solution hence Vincent will have to face the Gray’s family and his determination will only grow as he realises his own family is in danger.
The book is lengthy but it reads very well and all the actions and reactions follow a fairly logical and believable path. The reader gets plenty of time to absorb all the strange facts and is also able how Vincent’s character grows and evolves as the pages keep on turning. With the vision of a painting that absorbs the ageing process one wonders about immortality and what can lead humanity to achieve this strange itself goal.
I enjoyed “Family Portrait” and its specific settings and its subject kept on reminding me about my great grandmother’s picture she had hanging on the wall above her bed. Since reading the book on every occasion I went to see my grandmother I would look at the picture of a young face wondering if it becomes younger as my nun gets older. Somewhat reverse psychology but it kept me fearful at times and goosebumps were something of a common occurrence….
It is the same with the book. You ask yourself a question but all you get back is that inanimate stare back from within the frames… Creepy.

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