Born to the Dark | Ramsey Campbell | Rougeski Book Review

Born to the Dark by Ramsey Campbell is the second volume of The Three Births of Daoloth trilogy.  It continues the development of the plot that began in The Searching Dead.

“Go to the dark where the dead people grow.”

Even though this is the second of a trilogy, those who have not read the first can still enjoy Born to the Dark.  Campbell drops in bits of back story with great care, using just enough to ground new readers without relying on the use of the dreaded info dump.  As with the first volume, Campbell’s superb writing skills are sure to create a pleasant read.  His use of symbolism as harbingers in Born to the Dark is impressive, especially when he finds a way to take one symbol and morph its nature from light to dark to enhance the mood or atmosphere.

The novel takes place over thirty years after the first of the series.  The plot is complex with many moving parts that will keep readers guessing.  The danger trickles in one drop at a time, which allows it to creep up on the reader and pounce when least expected.  Many of the main characters from the first novel return and are just as likable.  Jim is married with two sons and has become a police officer.  Bobbie lives in London with her partner, Carol, and is a noted journalist.  However, Dominic’s wife is an exception.  She is rigid and sometimes judges Dominick harshly.  However, he loves her anyway.

Dominic Sheldrake is married with a young.  He and his wife Lesley teach at a local college.  His only connection with the past is his collection of journals, some of which were his handwritten copies of Mr. Noble’s nefarious diary.  What could be a perfect life is marred by the fact that their son Toby is one of a number of children who suffer from nocturnal seizures with no known cause or treatment.  Both Dominic and his wife are desperate for a cure for what they refer to as nocturnal absences.

When Dominic returns from a reunion with his childhood pals Bobby and Jim, Lesley tells him that she has located a clinic that treats nocturnal absences with great success.  Soon, even though the employees at the clinic are vague about what the treatment includes, little Toby is being treated at the Safe to Sleep clinic and appears to be improving.  However, appearances can deceive.  Toby begins saying things that disturb Dominick.  In part because the operators of Safe to Sleep refuse to explain their methods, Dominick becomes suspicious.  When his copies of Noble’s journal disappear, his suspicions are validated.  He begins to search for evidence that will compel his wife to agree to remove Toby from Safe to Sleep.  Campbell includes an episode where Dominick sneaks through a forest so that he might spy on the operators of the clinic.  Here, the author includes a wonderful episode where the vegetation appears to become sentient, similar to scenes from The Darkest Part of the Woods and The Wise Friend.

“You don’t eat the gods, the gods eat you.”

Born to the Dark is a well-organized, clearly written, and mysterious story that ends with a dramatic denouement.  It comes highly recommended.  Avid reads of cosmic horror will be satisfied with the read and will no doubt find themselves ordering the next and final volume, The Way of the Worm, as soon as possible.

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Alphonse is Obsessed

Book Title: Born to the Dark

Book Author: Ramsey Campbell

Book Format: Hardcover

Publisher: P.Sl Publications


  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Complexity
  • Literary Quality
  • Setting
  • Originality
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