Monday, June 22, 2009
Ramsey Campbell's The Influence
Campbell is one of those rare writers who is probably too hip for the room, by which I mean that horror readers looking for the usual schlock will be disapointed because nobody is disemboweled on the first page. Nor does a hunky vampire put the ole plank to a swooning maiden.
Campbell is first and always a serious novelist. That he sometimes uses supernatural elements to enhance his impressions of this vale of tears we all share does not limit him to the familiar tropes.
The Influence is a rather sweeping story that deals with love, loneliness, loss and finally what it means to confront death. Campbell also takes us beyond death into a realm that as frightening as anything he's ever written. There are a number of scenes that build slowly to shrieking climaxes. There is also prose that imbues the entire book with an otherworldly quality even though Campbell takes care to make his people and their surroundings all too real.
This new edition from Centipede Press gives permanence to one of the eeriest and most elegantly told novels of fear I've ever read.