As I’ve stated many times before, Ramsey Campbell is my favorite author past or present. Over the years, I’ve read countless of his short stories and many of his novels. So, upon hearing his most recent release, THE SEARCHING DEAD, is the first book in a trilogy of cosmic horror tales under THE THREE BIRTHS OF DAOLOTH banner, I excitedly ordered a copy. Here are my thoughts:
Set in 1950’s England, it centers around a young boy attending Catholic school named Dominic Sheldrake and his two best friends Jim and Bobby. Dominic is a fledgling writer who includes his friends in a series of adventures dubbing them The Tremendous Three. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic of these child detectives because I was a huge fan of the The Investigator books while growing up. The conflict starts after Dominic discovers a teacher at his school named Christian Noble has formed his own church claiming he has the ability to bring back the dead. While Dominic coaxes his friends to help get to the bottom of Noble’s activities, he must do so while dealing with backlash from his strict Catholic teachers and parents, as well as budding romantic feelings toward Bobby, whom he and Jim are beginning to notice is developing into more than just their tomboy friend. He also works through insecurity over his writing and how others perceive it, all while struggling with his waning faith in God. None of this stops him from seeking answers, however, particularly after discovering Noble has been including his far too prescient two year old daughter in his nefarious activities.
As with anything by Ramsey, the descriptions are poetically eerie with a sense of oncoming dread infusing every word. The characters are likewise excellent and the dialog often does double duty, giving us what they are actually saying while simultaneously conveying deeper, underlying meanings. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and can’t wait to read the next book in the series, BORN TO THE DARK.
get your copy from PS Publishing: http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/the-searching-dead-hardcover-by-ramsey-campbell-4047-p.asp
Reviewed by Matt Cowan