Ghosts and Grisly Thingsby Ramsey Campbell
A three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award and an eight-time winner of the British Fantasy Award, Campbell may be the genres most decorated writer. Publishers Weekly hails him as a master of the horror genre, adding, He does more than jar the nerves and chill the spine; he assails ones very grip on reality. Ghosts and Grisly Things is a chilling collection of
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As you'd expect from Ramsey Campbell, GHOSTS AND GRISLY THINGS includes the most chilling, well written, powerful, and haunting horror tales you'll find out there today. While I don't think this collection of tales ranks with his best (eg, the horror masterpieces DARK COMPANIONS and THE HEIGHT OF THE SCREAM; both of which deserve to be considered as modern-day masterworks of the horror tale comparable to the best of M.R. James, Shirley Jackson, Fritz Leiber, Robert Aickman and H.P. Lovecraft), it is nonetheless one of the strongest collections since the Campbell retrospective ALONE WITH THE HORRORS. GHOSTS AND GRISLY THINGS offers a number of excellently crafted tales that recall Campbell's best. Some of the most outstanding are 'Missed Connection', 'Root Cause', 'The Alternative', 'Looking Out', 'Between the Floors', 'The Sneering', and 'Welcomeland': a selection outstanding not just in its diversity and the brilliance of individual tales therein, but as a demonstration of the range and power of which the best horror fiction is capable. If these nightmarish tales fail to move, disturb, and haunt a reader, I'd submit that the problem is not with the writing at all, but with the reader. Meanwhile, a few stories, such as 'Where They Lived' and 'McGonagall in the Head', balance the darkness of their visions with an equally black humor. Overall, despite a few minor entries that are a far cry from this author's best, this book is a must-read work of modern horror fiction. It also makes a fine starting point for anyone yet to read Ramsey Campbell¿s work. Keep in mind, if you merely seek escapist thrills and cheap shocks: you need not look into this book or anything else written by Ramsey Campbell. However, if you're after well crafted stories that demonstrate how vital, imaginative, and powerful horror fiction can be, tales that will stay with you after you've read them, then you may thank yourself for checking out GHOSTS AND GRISLY THINGS.
Ramsey Campbell is more known for his novels such as SILENT CHILDREN and NAZARETH HILL. Still his previous anthologies have been well received (see ALONE WITH THE HORRORS: THE GREAT SHORT FICTION OF RAMSEY CAMPBELL 1961-1991 AND STRANGE THINGS AND STRANGER PLACES). So for Mr. Campbell to provide his audience with twenty tales that vary in terror (and quality) is not surprising. The subjects deviate from modern day scenarios to homage to classic horror creatures. Not for everyone because Mr. Campbell's writing often lives up to his title, the stories are creative, quite depressing, yet often humorous. The stories diversify between physical horror (ask the charity runner, the vampires or the other alleged creatures of the night) to psychological terror (talk to the mother avenging her daughter's murder). All the stories are good, but the best contain characters forced to challenge real or imaginative phantoms. Hopefully readers will not have to wait five plus years for Mr. Campbell's next anthology. Harriet Klausner