I love reading anything by Ramsey Campbell – be it in long form or short – as a result his work gets covered here a lot. This being the case, I’ve run out of unique titles for the articles where I recount a bunch of his short stories, so from here on I’ll just be numbering them unless its a collection, in which case I’ll use its book title. What follows are a bunch of his stories I’ve read since the last post. They are listed by order of their publication.
You can find previous posts about Ramsey’s short fiction here:
R.C. Stories List II: https://horrordelve.com/2014/09/20/holes-for-faces-by-ramsey-campbell/
R.C. Stories List III: https://horrordelve.com/2015/02/09/far-away-and-never-by-ramsey-campbell-review/
R.C. Stories List IV: https://horrordelve.com/2015/06/01/13-more-great-short-stories-by-ramsey-campbell/
R.C Stories List V: https://horrordelve.com/2018/07/09/yet-another-batch-of-ramsey-campbell-stories/
R.C. Stories List VI: https://horrordelve.com/2019/07/08/by-the-light-of-my-skull-by-ramsey-campbell-review/
If you want to peruse all the entries for Ramsey here at Horror Delve, you can find the extensive list here: https://horrordelve.com/?s=Ramsey+Campbell .
1. “The Christmas Present” (1969) – A peculiar college student attaches himself to some friends who are celebrating on Christmas Eve and offers them a present that he insists can’t be opened until midnight. They reluctantly feel obligated to invite him back to their house to continue their celebrations. Everyone becomes unnerved when the lights along their path begin going out, and they start hearing voices they assume must be carolers coming from the location of an old, transplanted graveyard.
2. “Above the World” (1979) – A man goes to visit the Swan Hotel, a place where he and his former wife had originally honeymooned many years ago and happens to be the same place where she and her new husband died from exposure climbing the traitorous peak know as “The Bishop of Barf”. He decides to climb it again for old-times-sake, but as he does, he begins to see, hear and catch glimpses of a pair of not-quite-human creatures sharing the peak with him in this classic Campbell tale.
3. “Drawing In” (1982) – A man recovering from an accident rents a place in the hills by a lake to recover. The scenery is beautiful, but he becomes concerned over the plethora of cracks he notices forming on the walls and windows, as well as discovering remnants of the previous occupant’s study of arachnids.
4. “The Sneering” (1985) – An elderly man struggles to help his mentally declining wife. The house they live in sits before a busy intersection. One day he catches the angry sneer of a driver who’s killed seconds later in a crash while trying to avoid hitting his wife who had wandered into the street. The husband then starts seeing the man’s sneering, orange face as he and his wife try to deal with their respective bouts of depression.
5. “Where the Heart Is” (1987) – A man, struggling to move on after the death of his wife, has to sell the house they shared. When some of his memories of their time together begin to fade, he realizes it’s because the new owners of the house have begun altering it. He decides he must do something to stop them in this sorrowful, haunting tale.
6. “Playing the Game” (1987) – A reporter, tired of being relegated to fluff pieces, goes after a mysterious man who supposedly practices black magic. When the tip comes in, he remembers a terrifying encounter he had with the man during his childhood. This story has a pulp detective feel to it.
7. “A Side of the Sea” (1994) – After someone takes his seat on the bus he was supposed to ride headed to a day by the sea, a man is forced to board a different bus. Soon afterward, he begins to worry he may made a terrible mistake.
8. “Facing It” (1995) – On Halloween in New York, a woman tries to piece together if the mysterious events featuring a faceless man from earlier actually happened or was a dream in this short tale of cosmic horror.
9. “The Horror Under Warrendown” (1997) – A traveling children’s book salesman agrees to drop off an acquaintance from the bar he regularly frequents at a remote village near the Cotswolds called Warrendown. The acquaintance says he must go there to meet up with a woman with whom he fathered a child but hasn’t gone to see. He seems fearful of going to the place, and once they arrive there it seems to be for good reason. The heavy scent of vegetables permeates the area and the denizens are unusually hairy. This is an excellently tale of Lovecraftian horror.
10. “Skeleton Woods” (2005) – In this novelette an older brother struggles to keep his younger sibling out of trouble. The younger boy claims to see things in nearby Skelton Woods which he insists on calling ‘Skeleton Woods’. The older brother eventually begins to suspect there actually may be something weird going on inside the eerie place.
11. “Double Room” (2008) – An elderly widower stays in a hotel which is hosting a fantasy weekend filled with people doing cosplay. When he retires to his room, he keeps hearing someone in the room next door mimicking his movements and things that he says. He grows irritated at this persistent mimic and complains to the front desk only to be told the room next to his is empty. Still the taunting continues.
12. “Safe Word” (2009) – Nothing supernatural in this one as its more about the horror of one’s secrets taking over their lives and being brought to light for all to see. In this case, a man becomes attracted to the new, young music teacher who joins the staff at the school where he works. He has a spanking fetish which he struggles to restrain while being unable to stop himself from thinking of it and her.
13. “Correspondence of Thaddeus Nash, Annotated by Ramsey Campbell” (2010) – This novelette is presented as a series of letters from a writer named Thaddeus Nash to H.P. Lovecraft during his life. The letters start off with Nash being a gushing fan of Lovecraft’s work. However, he believes Lovecraft is actually a dream-traveler, even claiming to also be one, and that Lovecraft’s stories come from these dream travels. Nash comments on each story Lovecraft publishes as they come out, every one of which is annotated by Ramsey. As time goes on, Nash’s letters become increasingly more erratic and aggressive. These is another fantastic tale by Ramsey.
Ramsey’s Website: http://www.ramseycampbell.com
Ramsey’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ramsey-Campbell/e/B000APEIRG%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
Article by Matt Cowan