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Reading List: The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell

ANDREW MARCH 2014 041

Originally as part of my reading list I was intending to Cold Print by Ramsay Campbell to feature on this list. Cold Print being one of the Wallasey horror supremo’s Lovecraftian influenced short story collections. However I saw this text at my local library – saw it combined his love of cinema with horror like the novel ‘Altered Images’ I enjoyed. Therefore Cold Print was bumped and this took it’s place.

The story is set in the internet age where a disgraced film critic reduced to pumping gas is given a chance of academic respectability – this leads him to research an anarchic silent comedy star drawing on far older and more powerful jests. The path of research leads him into avenues of paranoia and mental collapse driven by internet trolling, financial disaster, brushes with the porn industry, things slithering in the  dark and mundane pressures. But perhaps you see the joke?

There is little to no gore in this tale. There are creepy moments, Mr James style ‘wallops’ and an increasing sense of dread and mental collapse. The unreliable narrator means that various incidents and calamities can’t always be trusted. The circus seen in particular haunted me and the drug paranoia in Amsterdam also rang true.  The whole novel works effectively and efficiently to creep me seriously out. I strongly recommend it.

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