I’ve already written several previous articles examining the works my favorite writer Ramsey Campbell, but since few things in life bring me so much joy, I think it’s time to look at some more.
The header artwork above appears in the collection TOLD BY THE DEAD (for the “Dead Letters” story) and is credited to Richard Lamb.
1. “The Interloper” (1973) – Two boys leave school to explore a series of secret underground tunnels. When they attempt to leave, their exit has been blocked forcing them to search for an alternate route. They soon find themselves in mortal danger after discovering something sinister lives there.
2. “The Companion” (1973) – A man is directed to an old carnival. Once there he enters the car of a Ghost Train ride which takes him into the dark attraction. As it moves through, he’s reminded of childhood fears. I love the fantastic ending of this atmospheric tale.
3. “Dead Letters” (1978) – A squabbling couple participate in an impromptu seance inside a three year old apartment with disturbing results.
4. “Old Clothes” (1985) – A professional mover takes an old raincoat from a house he’s clearing out during a heavy rain. An assortment of items starts to appear in the coat’s pockets as he’s haunted by dreams of a man with impossibly long arms.
5. “Beyond Words” (1986) – A writer begins to “hear” a constant rhythm of words that little by little make him unable to hear or focus on anything.
6. “Looking Out” (1986) – An obstinate man becomes obsessed with catching the odd figures inside his house.
7. “Bedtime Story” (1986) – A boy fears a figure he keeps catching glimpses of in his bedroom mirror.
8. “Next Time You’ll Know Me” (1989) – A want-to-be writer becomes convinced other successful authors are somehow stealing and profiting off his ideas.
9. “The Guide” (1989) – An elderly man buys a rare M.R. James guidebook detailing an area near him. To his surprise, he finds a number of strange notations scrawled inside pointing to an obscure, secluded location. He decides he must find it to see what secrets it hides. This story is a tribute to the great M.R. James, so it’s no surprise that something dark and malicious awaits him.
10. “The Old School” (1989) – A teacher encounters some of his students near an abandoned school on holiday break. They coax him into playing a game called Blocko with them (similar to hide and seek). While searching for the kids, he catches glimpses of other children who seem too young to be out on their own. He follows them into the school. This story starts off light-hearted, but things grow darker as it moves toward its terrifying conclusion.
11. “Welcomeland” (1988) – A man returns to visit his hometown where he had invested in a project to reinvigorate the area by transforming it into an amusement resort. Unfortunately, things went bad, and it was never completed. It’s instead become part-carnival, part-deteriorating town. The townspeople are slow-moving and locked into their repetitive tasks. He witnesses disturbing scenes in several of the houses. This is a wonderfully atmospheric tale done by the master of creating fear and unease.
12. “Meeting the Author” (1989) – A boy is terrified by a pop-up book written by an author he and his mother met at a book signing. He gets the impression the author doesn’t like kids despite his having made a career writing children’s books. When the boy’s mother publishes a bad review of the book, the author starts making threatening calls. Surprisingly, a new book by the same author arrives at the house, bringing something unwholesome with it.
13. “The Retrospective” (2002) – After all the passengers are forced to leave the train they were on, a man finds himself in the town where he grew up. He decides to go see his parents who he hasn’t seen in a long time. The town has changed a great deal since his last visit. The theater he used to go to is now some sort of museum. His parents move extremely slow when he sees them, and his mind starts to become clouded. When he leaves, everything is becoming dark. A trip into the lighted museum, the only lit place around, turns into a living nightmare.
Enter Ramsey’s name in the search bar for all my other articles featuring him.
Ramsey Campbell’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ramsey-Campbell/e/B000APEIRG
Article by Matt Cowan