STRANGE THINGS AND STRANGER PLACES by Ramsey Campbell

STRANGE THINGS AND STRANGER PLACES

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A middle-drawer miscellany--eight stories and two novellas- -that spans the 20-year career of British horror-writer Campbell. At his best (as in Midnight Sun, 1991), Campbell writes elegant, soul-sucking horror that rivals the genre's finest--but there's none of his best here. To his credit, Campbell admits as much in his introduction, although he does preen about the most recent entry here--the previously unpublished novella ``Needing Ghosts.'' Before reaching it, the reader encounters, first, one of the author's earliest tales, ``Cat and Mouse,'' a lackluster bit of feline terror that does, however, flow smoothly. Next up is the once privately published ``Medusa,'' a true Campbell oddity since it's a science-fiction novella, an unsettling tale of alien encounter. Campbell says it's his strongest work of sf, since ``here and there imagination surfaces,'' and that's about right. Next come four stories inspired by the ghoulish E.C. comics of the 50's: one deals with zombies, a second with mummies, both obviously; ``A New Life'' is a wrenching take on Frankenstein from the monster's point of view, while ``Run Through'' is the collection's only truly scary tale--an eerie mosaic of flashbacks revealing a man pursued by a monster. Three mid-80's stories follow, two of them climaxing with the sort of predictable twist favored by their original publisher, TZ (Twilight Zone) Publications. And then there's ``Needing Ghosts,'' in which a writer takes a dreamlike odyssey through a threatening town and into the mystery of his own life, and perhaps death. It's Campbell at his most surreal--and most self-indulgent: a lament for the writer's lot that mixes horror and black humor as awkwardly as did his most recent novel, The Count of Eleven (1992)--not a happy augury for future Campbell work. With so much Campbell to read or reread, only die-hard fans will want to bother with these scrappy leavings.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85514-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993




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