by Ramsey Campbell
PS Publishing 2023
Horror icon Ramsey Campbell has provided yet another collection of short stories previously scattered in various venues ( magazines and anthologies) during the last six years.
A veteran of the genre, Campbell has been, for over fifty years, a constant contributor to a countless number of books and has been defined as “ Britain’s most respected living horror writer” by the Oxford Companion to English Literature.
So, how can a reviewer say something interesting and clever about the present, hefty volume?
I won’t. I will simply mention my favourite stories from this collection.
“ Speaking Still” is a very effective tale where a dead woman keeps getting in touch with her husband by means of his cell phone, while “Fully Boarded” is a distressing story depicting a terrible experience in a hotel where nothing seems to work and too many things are simply disquieting.
“ The Dreamed”, apparently a cautionary tale about the dangers of travelling abroad, is actually a living nightmare, whereas “ Some Kind of Laugh” is a subtly horrific piece featuring a waiter strongly resembling a famous comic actor ( a blessing or a curse?).
The offbeat “ Still Hungry” takes place in a department store where a security guard has to face unexpected, unpleasant events.
These are my preferences. Others may pinpoint different stories on the basis of their personal taste. With 348 pages featuring twenty-one tales, there’s enough material to satisfy any fan of horror fiction.
Fearful Implications by Ramsey Campbell
FEARFUL IMPLICATIONS collects twenty recent tales by Ramsey Campbell, ranging from the uncanny to the satirical, the disturbing to the comical, and sometimes they meet in the middle.
Can our mobile phones connect us to the afterlife? A voice from a bush tempts a child off a path, and a street performer’s routine proves to be infectious. Christmas brings its own kind of chill: a traditional rhyme is macabrely reinterpreted, and watch out who or what you meet under the mistletoe! A traveller finds reasons to regret going all-inclusive, and even delivering the mail can become a nightmare. An infamous nobleman and his dread companion turn out to be still at large, and a discussion of famous monsters grows monstrous. A bomber brings about an unintended future, while elsewhere the past sends guilt to exact a price. A Tarantino tribute is dreamed up, and a holiday resembles someone’s bad dream. You might hope it’s just a dog that you hear someone calling, and is everybody in the picture above your hotel bed staying as still as they should? Comedy can become infectious in a less than welcome way, and some playmates are best not wished for. A science fiction fan finds ways to live a different life, and a view of a problem family leads to a devastating revelation. Some needs may persist beyond the grave, and a writer does, not only in his writing.
Many things haunt these pages, and perhaps closing the book will keep them in. Or perhaps they will visit the reader in the dark.