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The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes Ramsey Campbell as "Britain's most respected living horror writer". He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild, the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association. He has also won four World Fantasy Awards, two Bram Stoker Awards, twelve British Fantasy Awards, and three International Horror Guild Awards for individual works. He has garnered over eighty award nominations over the course of his career.
on Dec. 27, 2013 :
I didn't find this book entirely satisfying, but what it does well it does very well indeed. Campbell manages to take us inside the mind of a paranoid homophobic murderer. The main horror is to feel what it would be like to be driven by fear, alienation and obsession to commit horrific acts. Horridge is very clearly a product of his environment, as much a victim as those he stalks. He has been consigned to live in an inhuman council estate, having been filled with hateful attitudes by his late father and having no positive forms of social contact which might change those attitudes. The real horror here is of the collapse of community. Horridge is like those individuals we so often end up reading about in the newspaper - they fall out of the habit of healthy communication with others (and which of us will bother to make the effort to interact with someone disagreeable and maybe kind of creepy) and so they drift further and further into bitter isolation until one day they pick up a gun and start killing people. When our cities and our culture become dehumanising and alienating it is all too easy for fear-based hatreds to dominate our minds and our behaviour.
One of the highlights of the book is a blackly humorous passage in which homophobic Horridge visits the cinema and decides to see a horror film. The film he picks - The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The story is not entirely told from the point of view of Horridge. Some chapters are from the point of view of other characters. This was no doubt necessary in order to tell the story, but it makes the narrative feel fragmented, and these chapters are never as interesting as the ones from Horridge's point of view. The fact that the climax of the novel is from the point of view of another character makes it quite disappointing. Also, all of the drawn-out accounts of Horridge travelling from place to place on the bus and other characters walking in the park, while it helps to reinforce the drabness of their lives, is still a bit dull to actually read.
While the novel may be seriously flawed, the remarkably believable and disturbing depiction of the psychology of the lead character makes it worth seeking out for fans of this type of horror.
Please Note : There are some very annoying peculiarities in the epub version of this ebook (I don't know about the Kindle or PDF versions). Many words and chapter headings appear twice. In the text this generally occurs where words have a U.S. or English spelling. Both spellings will be run together as one word, e.g. "programprogrammes". I recommend checking out a sample carefully before buying it. I ploughed through it regardless but it made for a very frustrating experience.
(reviewed long after purchase)