THE INFLUENCE by Ramsey Campbell


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Again, well-written horror from Campbell (Parasite, Obsession, etc.) that oozes with the terrors of both psychopathy and the occult. But this ghost story of an English girl haunted by her dead and sadistic grandmother is tame and uninventive fare compared to the author's 1986 ferocity, The Hungry Moon. As rich, vicious, willful, and very old Queenie lies dying in her bed in Waterloo, she orders niece Alison to fetch Alison's daughter, Rowan: ""She reminds me of myself at her age."" Alison refuses; incensed, Queenie dies. But is she really dead? Alison's sister, Hermoine, tortured by Queenie as a child, has her doubts--doubts that grow when Rowan turns up with binoculars that once belonged to Queenie and that Rowan claims were given to her by her new girlfriend, Vickie--the very model of a Victorian ghost, thin and pale and clothed in white. Are Vickie and Queenie one and the same? Vickie is certainly as nasty as Queenie: unknown to Rowan and the rest, she's already lured Hermoine's disturbed brother, Lance, into the path of a subway train. Campbell continues to daub on the tension in small, steady doses--Hermoine hears Queenie's voice from the grave; a photograph of Queenie looks just like Vickie, etc.--as he sets up Hermoine as the sole opposition to Queenie/Vickie. Then he pulls away the rug in the novel's climactic and only truly horrific scene, a showdown at Queenie's grave. A long postclimax follows, focusing on Alison--and generates enough maternal love to work a miracle. Stylish, but a surprisingly old-fashioned entry from this horror trail-blazer, and all-too-lacking in the thrills that horror fans demand in this hard-core King/Barker era.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 1933618426
Publisher: Macmillan