The Way of the Worm | Ramsey Campbell | Rougeski Book Review

The Way of the Worm by Ramsey Campbell is a stunning conclusion to the Three Births of Daoloth trilogy that is tailored to be read only by the courageous.  This dramatic tragedy completes a series of horror novels, inarguably cosmic in nature.  It illuminates the universe and underscore the belief that humans are tiny, helpless, insects when compared to the cosmos and the forces that rule that vast, measureless, uncharted expanse.  This novel is guaranteed to create a profound, lingering effect on readers that outpaces even the devastating conclusion of The Darkest Part of the Woods.

The literary maturity of this novel supersedes that of the first two.  Campbell’s use of symbolism will seep into the pores of readers, luring them to deeper understanding.  A prime example would be Dominic’s repeating images in the mirrored elevator that he refers to as a triple multitude.  Campbell’s use of the sacred number three comes to full bloom and harkens back to clues concealed in the first two novels.  Three friends, three Nobles, three members of Dominick’s family and that of Toby, The Church of the Eternal Three, a creature with a tongue split in three, and even three vehicles in a funeral procession, all of which engender an extraordinary continuity.  Campbell’s intense attention to detail creates postmodern denaturalization where all things become something new and unexamined, evocative of Christian Nobel’s new world.

The plot is tangled, complex, and totally original.  It includes multiple bifurcations and returns.  Again, Campbell charges Dominic Sheldrake with the task of telling the tale.  Readers will feel his pain, loneliness, fears, profound grief, and longing for a past that could only be revisited in a universe where time no longer exists.

The Way of the Worm begins when Dominick is an old man who has just lost his beloved wife.  He walks with a limp and often runs out of breath.  Toby, his son, is grown and has a wife and daughter.  Readers will be happy to see that The Tremendous Three are reunited and sworn to try to stay together to defeat the Noble’s nefarious plans.  Unfortunately, there is a new problem.  Toby and his family are fully devoted to the Church of the Eternal Three.  Dominick is a flawed individual who feels he has nothing to lose but is driven to try to defeat the Noble’s joined cosmic entity without endangering his family.  This psychological dichotomy compels him to make decisions that might trigger a disastrous conclusion for himself and others.

Noble and his daughter Tina are the originators of a new religion that has spread internationally.  Christopher, Tina’s son, has reached adulthood and plays a major part in leading this new religion.  Many of the members were children the Nobles enchanted during their stay at Safe to Sleep.  Defeating what the Nobles have become could be an impossible task.  Jim has retired from the police force, and Bobbie has become a noted journalist.  They both come to Dominick’s aid, ready to sacrifice themselves to stop the cosmic evil.

“I can have you any time I want,” Christian Noble.

 The Way of the Worm slips between worlds.  It could be said that the novel is a prophetic, cautionary tale that warns readers about how powerful, organized, evil forces can manipulate reality to create quasi-religious like mania, a mass psychosis augmented by a willing acceptance of blindness to reality.  The way of the worm burrows silently, deeper, deeper until it is prepared to take control.  The Way of the Worm is a tragic masterpiece and comes very highly recommended.  The entire trilogy deserves to be read as a cohesive unit.

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Book Title: The Way of the Worm

Book Author: Ramsey Campbell

Book Format: Hardcover

Publisher: P.S. Publishing


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