The Influence by Ramsey Campbell is a superlative example of supernatural horror. It opens with an impressive illustration of one of Ramsey Campbells’ strongest talents, a remarkable ability to engender an atmosphere of darkness, decay, and most of all, dread, which makes for superior horror. Sisters Alison and Hermione are tasked with the care of their moribund aunt Queenie. Alison, her husband Derek, and their young daughter Rowan take up residence in Queenie’s ancient, deteriorating home. Readers are immersed in a labyrinthine setting of decay, peeling wallpaper, flickering lights, and moldy books. Always the books.
Queenie treats her nieces with obvious, glaring contemp. However, she is overtly fond of little Rowan. Perceptive readers will at once realize that the child is in some sort of danger and will fear for her. When Queenie dies, the horror begins.
The characters are real, admirable, and flawed. Campbell as always does a great job of using realistic family dynamics to enhance the power of the story with augmenting layers. Hermione is especially interesting because she is the only one who senses the presence of evil and recognizes the fact that Rowan’s new friend Vicky is something more than a little girl in a long white dress.
Although Campbell is famous for his cosmic fiction, The Influence is pure horror at its creepiest. The plot is balanced with a direct trajectory enhanced by complex character interactions that not only create a sense of reality but increase the level of tension.
Campbell’s writing style is pristine and highly descriptive. Readers with feel they are there, in Queenie’s crumbling home, at the seashore, and even deep in an open grave. His decision to choose a child for his focus character adds to the levels of dread readers will feel for this innocent character.
Readers who appreciate a solid, supernatural horror novel will love this book, which was transformed into a Netflix movie. The movie is great, but the book is much better.
The Influence comes highly recommended.
Alphonse Loves it
Book Title: The Influence
Book Author: Ramsey Campbell
Book Format: Paperback
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
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