Little's strengths have been in his strange ideas and sudden plot twists. And those are certainly in evidence here. This is a novel that twists right at the title, which doesn't seem to have any major relevance to the novel it's the title of. So it goes. Is this too some sort of joke about Little's preference for one and two word titles for his novels?
Rich white men start going crazy and killing people. Children with the heads of animals are being found in various West Coast cities. A flashback narrative follows an early 19th-century wagon train into an American West found on no map. It all seems sort of intriguing.
Buckets of blood will be thrown about. Even vaguely alternate sexual practices will be linked to Evil. Some evil monsters will show up. But those monsters are also, and I quote, "sexy"! People will bang monsters. People will be banged by monsters. An elite force of mercenaries will suddenly show up to help set things right. They will be tempted to bang those monsters, but they will resist!
To summon these monsters people want to bang, one has to go to certain places and yell out at least slightly obscene rhymes. Or as one of the rhymes goes in the novel, "Engine Engine Number Nine, Take me quickly from behind." I'm not making this up. One of the sexy things these monsters do is a sexy dance consisting primarily of stripper-like gyrations. The monsters look like giant hybrids of lizards, people, and other animals, with Giant-Size sexual organs that everyone keeps staring at with lust. I told you they were sexy, and sexy means Big!
At one point, a character thinks the New York skyline at night looks like a bunch of rectangular Christmas trees, while the cars below look like glowing ants. I'm not making that up, either.
The monsters are a sort of quasi-mystical holdover, in a tradition going back in horror to Arthur Machen's malign little people. They live with their human sex-buddies in a magical land hidden in the Pacific Northwest in which a giant mountain of sewage and offal looms over the landscape. Sex and shit. Get it? Cloachal?
A trio of ten-year-old girls get raped by the monsters in a flashback. Women are kept as milking animals by one of the monster's half-human offspring. Besides reciting some obscene rhyme, people who want to attract the monsters also rub themselves in their own urine and possible feces. Get it? Cloachal! Thank god for that mercenary group. They really come in handy for our protagonists, a reporter haunted by childhood trauma and a socially retarded social worker.
Did I mention that a priest gets raped to death in his church by monsters? Oh, yeah! If nothing else, The Vanishing makes Clive Barker's "Rawhead Rex" look like "The Turn of the Screw" by comparison. Not recommended, or recommended a lot.