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Holes for Faces

Holes for Faces [Kindle Edition]

Ramsey Campbell , Santiago Caruso
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

"Consider Holes for Faces another textbook by one of our best practitioners, an essential addition to the bookshelves of horror readers and writers alike. " - FEAR NET

One of the most respected living horror writers in the world, Campbell has more awards for his horror tales than any other author, and "is likely to be remembered as the leading horror writer of our generation," according to S.T. Joshi. One of the heirs apparent to early-twentieth-century American author H. P. Lovecraft, Campbell's horror stories are often set in contemporary Merseyside, England, his own hometown, and involve quite ordinary characters. His unsettling, dreamlike prose, however, transforms his work into very effective horror fiction.

Holes for Faces collects many of his best tales from the first decade of this century. An attempt to avoid a haunted house leads into worse danger. The announcements at a railway station deal with stranger things than trains, and is that another railway station in the distance or a different kind of destination? A childhood game becomes a source of terror, and so does a radio quiz show. Even Christmas decorations may not be trusted, and beware of that Advent calendar! A hotel provides amenities you mightn’t welcome, and a visit to a tourist attraction attracts an uninvited follower. A train journey may never end, unless it already has, and a visit to a hospital brings back more than memories. A myth about a horror film has unwanted consequences. There are angels you mightn’t want to see too clearly, if that’s what they are. And you’ll have to decide if it’s better to stay in the dark or see what’s waiting there. You’ll find uncanny dread in these pages, and disquiet and terror, but also poignancy and comedy of paranoia. One theme runs through all the stories: youth and age.

"Campbell is renowned among fans and writers alike as the master of a skewed and exquisitely terrifying style." - Library Journal

"Holes For Faces is a must-read for Ramsey Campbell fans, collecting his best stories from this fledgling century we find ourselves in. And if you’ve not been introduced to Mr. Campbell yet, then I can think of no better place to start." - The Occult Detective (author Bob Freeman)

"...a superb collection of stories of the strange and the dark that I’m sure fans of the genre will love. I know I did." - The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog

"The title story, “Holes for Faces,” is a tale of sliding realities in which our protagonist sees a very different world around him. He becomes aware of the horrors that no one else can see. These stories reflect Campbell’s ability to take normal and tilt it just far enough to create fear. This could happen to you he reminds us and that is the greatest fear of all." - Horror Novel Reviews

About the Author

The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes Ramsey Campbell as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association and the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild. Among his novels are The Face That Must Die, Incarnate, Midnight Sun, The Count of Eleven, Silent Children, The Darkest Part of the Woods, The Overnight, Secret Story, The Grin of the Dark, Thieving Fear, Creatures of the Pool, The Seven Days of Cain, Ghosts Know and The Kind Folk. Forthcoming are The Last Revelation of Gla’aki and The Pretence (both novellas) and Bad Thoughts. His collections include Waking Nightmares, Alone with the Horrors, Ghosts and Grisly Things, Told by the Dead and Just Behind You, and his non-fiction is collected as Ramsey Campbell, Probably. His novels The Nameless and Pact of the Fathers have been filmed in Spain. His regular columns appear in Prism, Dead Reckonings and Video Watchdog. He is the President of the British Fantasy Society and of the Society of Fantastic Films.

Ramsey Campbell lives on Merseyside with his wife Jenny. His pleasures include classical music, good food and wine, and whatever’s in that pipe. His web site is at

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 502 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 193712844X
  • Publisher: Dark Regions Press (12 Aug 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,817 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fourteen short story anthology by Ramsey Campbell including:-

Passing Through Peacehaven, Getting it Wrong, Peep, The Room Beyond, Holes for Faces, The Rounds, The Decorations, The Address, Recently Used, Chucky Comes to Liverpool, With the Angels, Behind the Doors, Holding the Light, The Long Way.

For my own personal tastes Peep was perhaps the most unsettling story with Passing Through Peacehaven running a close second but; they're all classic Campbell and a testament of his ability to turn the most mundane character/location/item into something distorted and twisted. He unsettles at the deepest level and the memory of a Ramsey Campbell story remains long after the book's been put back on the shelf (or the Kindle turned off).

One thing you can guarantee is each one of these 14 stories is bound to hit a nerve or two. Whether you're frightened of getting old, terrified of haunted houses or even wary of Christmas there's something here to suit and unsettle and enough of that cynical, dark Campbell humour to create a chuckle at the most inappropriate moment.

I don't have a negative comment as such but I do have a comment I'd like to share. The anthology is great value for money and if you're new to Campbell then you're in for a treat but; most of the stories seem concerned with ageing and the relationship between the young and the 'hideously' old. They're so similar in theme that after a while the edges of the stories began to merge into one another and there should have been more variety to shake things up. That's all. I'm a Campbell fan and always will be. Highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic horror 20 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Took me a while to get into the writers style but I really enjoyed this collection in the end. Although some of the same themes ran throughout, there are some original, genuinely creepy ideas in here. Will definitely be reading more from this author!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holes For Faces 3 Jan 2014
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Where to start writing a review of a new collection of Ramsey Campbell short stories? I guess many of you will be familiar enough with Campbell to make it almost seem redundant - most horror fans made up their mind about him years ago, one way or the other. If you admire him as much as I do, all you really need to know is that Holes For Faces collects fourteen recent stories, and that he's as good as he ever was.

So there you are: go buy.

Still here? Well okay, let me also add that if by some slim chance you are new to Campbell this is as good an introduction to his late style as any. You'll find all his key traits: the ambiguous imagery, the black humour, the treacherous wordplay. The protagonists of these stories tend to either be children or the elderly - outsiders unable to communicate to their family or colleagues the horrors they see, or think they see. This inability to communicate is key to Campbell's horror - words are as much foe as friend, slippery and keeping people apart rather than drawing them together. Campbell's prose is as sharp and intelligent as ever, as is his ability to conjure up a disturbing image in just a couple of sentences. The characters merely glimpse the phantoms and bogeymen in these stories, rather than seeing them straight on, leaving them (and us) unsure of exactly what they've seen, and how real it was.

Stand-out stories, for me were: Passing through Peacehaven, The Room Beyond, The Rounds (which adds a nice touch of Philip K Dick style uncertainty to Campbell's usual paranoia), the title story, and The Long Way.
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3.0 out of 5 stars More about atmosphere than excitement 10 April 2014
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Havent managed to finish this yet, I am about half way through. Despite good reviews elsewhere I confess to being somewhat disappointed. While there will obviously be similarities in a collection of short stories by a single author, these are highly stylised - if you like the style that's great; for me it left me cold. The stories seem to be more about creating an atmosphere based on an initial situation; however this means that nothing much seems to happen. Too often they seem to tail off without a recognizable conclusion. Compare this with HP Lovecraft, for example, who has atmosphere by the bucket-load but stuff actually happens in his stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome addition to the master's bibliography. 11 Oct 2013
By Justin Steele - Published on
Ramsey Campbell is a giant in the field. Love or hate his work, there is no denying it. With nearly fifty years of experience under his belt, the Liverpool native has surely made his mark in weird fiction history. Starting his long career with Lovecraft Mythos stories, yet set in his own fictional section of England, Ramsey has thoroughly explored all aspects of the uncanny.

Holes For Faces is Campbell's latest collection, recently published by Dark Regions Press, and contains fourteen stories from the past decade. Every story showcases Campbell's talents for hinting at the weird, making the mundane horrifying, and conveying Campbell's signature sense of paranoia. Campbell's stories have a certain nightmarish qualities to them, and his protagonists are almost always alone with seemingly no one to turn to who would understand them.

The one common thread tying all these stories together are the themes of youth and age. Almost every story features either a child protagonist, or an older man protagonist, while some stories prominently feature both ends of the spectrum. Parallels are drawn between both ages, aging characters are sometimes treated simply, as if they havee regressed to small children.

The stories prominently featuring age as a theme often take a similar approach, in that the old men and women are usually suffering from confusion. The Address is a prime example. The main character is looking for a station, yet is entirely lost. The people he encounters offer little to no help, either sending him in a direction that leads to nothing, or speaking down to him as if he is a child or simple in the head. The man's confused search soon becomes something much darker when he comes across what appears to be a school and decides to ask someone for directions. Recently Used is a tragic story, seeing an older man woken up in the middle night by a phone call, only to rush to the hospital to see his wife who is in critical condition. The story is a nightmare of anxiety, much like The Address, as the man rushes through the labyrinthine hospital unable to find the proper ward. Until the end it's hard to tell whether the man is experiencing something supernatural, or if he is simply not mentally competent. In The Rounds, an old man tries to make his way home on a train, only to become obsessed with a suitcase a Muslim woman leaves behind. Suspecting terrorism the man does his best to keep the suitcase in sight, yet the story soon becomes an endless loop of him going through the same motions station after station, never able to escape. Keeping with the train themes, Passing Through Peacehaven features another older protagonist, who stops at a decrepit train station, where he awaits the next train. The station seems abandoned, although at times he hears a voice over the speakers and catches glimpses of what may be another person.

Campbell also writes youth well. Holes for Faces features a particularly nervous boy, on vacation in Italy with his parents. He already seems to be a bit of a nervous wreck, but when the family decides to take a tour of some catacombs, the boy becomes particularly fixated on holes where some corpses' faces should be. The rest of the vacation becomes a nightmare, as holes in general start to become a source of extreme anxiety and fear for the boy. Chucky Comes to Liverpool, one of my favorites, plays with the idea of British urban legends about the killer doll Chucky from the Child's Play films. The youth, as well as a coalition of moms, blame the Child's Play films for inspiring several violent crimes perpetrated by young men and women. The main character's mother is a member of this coalition, and is doing her part to ban the "video nasties" while her son and his friend, in true fourteen year old fashion, decide they want to see what all the fuss is about. The boy becomes obsessed, then frightened with his obsession, and decides to do what he can to put an end to Chucky, ironically becoming the violent sociopath himself. Holding The Light is bit more straightforward. Two young teenagers visit a spooky tunnel, and take turns walking it in the dark. The Long Way follows a young boy who routinely goes across the council estate to help his paraplegic uncle with his grocery shopping. Things become complicated when the boy sees something moving about in an abandoned house and begins to fear going to his uncle's.

While Campbell covers both youth and old age, some of the most successful stories are the ones that combine both. There is often the continued theme of the old characters being misunderstood and looked down upon by their own children or their peers, usually seen as incompetent to take care of their grandchildren. This is first explored in Peep, in which a grandfather is once again haunted by a terrifying game from his childhood, which interferes with his being able to watch over his own grandkids. The Decorations, the first of two Christmas themed stories, draws strong parallels between a boy and his grandmother. Being of that age where the realities of the world start to become clear, the boy and his mother visit his grandparents for the holidays. It soon becomes apparent that his grandmother is losing it, and she has an obsessive fear of a creepy Santa Claus decoration. The boy struggles, on one hand he shares her fear and believes her, but on another hand he tries to "be a man" and help convince her it's alright. The end is ambiguous, and leaves readers wondering whether the boy truly experiences the supernatural, or if he simply shares his grandmother's madness. In contrast, Behind The Doors features the grandfather as the protagonist, instead of the grandson. The grandfather's bad memories of school return when his grandson brings home an advent calendar from the grandfather's old teacher. The grandfather's obsession with the calendar and the number game that the teacher plays leads him to lose everything. Going with the theme of mentally incompetent elders paired with youth, With the Angels has one of the book's darker endings. Two old women visit their families old house with some grandchildren, but one of the women is not quite up to the task of watching the kids.

Ramsey Campbell's skills are on full display with the collection, and the common theme of youth and old age make for a collection that is solidified in theme. Definitely a welcome addition to the master's bibliography.

Review originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ramsey Campbell for beginners. 19 Sep 2013
By Alexandria Bracanovich - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ramsey Campbell is possibly the greatest living horror writer. Yes, better than Stephen King. Campbell scares the heck out of you with not a single word wasted. This is a great book for people who want to dip their toes into his writing. It has a number of his best stories over the years. If you're already a rabid Campbell fan you probably have most of these stories in other collections, but don't let that put you off. It never hurts to reread them!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch psychological horror collection. 12 Aug 2013
By stickerooni - Published on
If there is a better writer of psychological horror than Ramsey Campbell, let them step forward! This collection of short stories (mostly [but not all] reprints of fiction found in a variety of magazines) is a strong statement to the horror genre that Campbell still reigns supreme.
The fourteen stories in this collection are:
"Passing Through Peacehaven"
"Getting It Wrong"
"The Room Beyond"
"Holes for Faces"
"The Rounds"
"The Decorations"
"The Address"
"Recently Used"
"Chucky Comes to Liverpool"
"With the Angels"
"Behind the Doors"
"Holding the Light"
"The Long Way"
Starting off with "Passing Through Peacehaven" we immediately understand that we are in the hands of a master -- one who can expose us to horror without resorting to copious amounts of blood and gore. Campbell expertly works on the psychology of the human mind and takes us to places that we can understand but generally don't go.
Campbell creates characters that are all too real. Characters that are identifiable... often ourselves...and it's that identification that scares the crap out of us...because we too could go to those dark places Campbell's characters dwell.
If there is a theme that runs amongst these stories, it is youth and age. Our main characters in each story is either a youngster, or an aged person (is the working-class age group too busy to notice the horror around them?).
In "Peep" we experience what it must be like to be that older, slower grandfather, tasked with watching his grandchildren for the day, not being able to keep up. But one of my favorites in this collection is "Getting It Wrong." This story hits every anxiety nerve just so, surprises a little, and truly gets under the skin. It definitely struck me that this could easily have been an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode ... in a good way ... as it was easy to visualize.
One of my other favorites (it's actually quite hard to choose as they are all so good) was the last piece "The Long Way." Although I've no experiences quite like this, I couldn't help but think Campbell somehow knew me and wrote about my youth.
As the publisher's website proclaims:
Holes for Faces collects many of his best tales from the first decade of this century. An attempt to avoid a haunted house leads into worse danger. The announcements at a railway station deal with stranger things than trains, and is that another railway station in the distance or a different kind of destination? A childhood game becomes a source of terror, and so does a radio quiz show. Even Christmas decorations may not be trusted, and beware of that Advent calendar! A hotel provides amenities you mightn't welcome, and a visit to a tourist attraction attracts an uninvited follower. A train journey may never end, unless it already has, and a visit to a hospital brings back more than memories. A myth about a horror film has unwanted consequences. There are angels you mightn't want to see too clearly, if that's what they are. And you'll have to decide if it's better to stay in the dark or see what's waiting there. You'll find uncanny dread in these pages, and disquiet and terror, but also poignancy and comedy of paranoia.
If you are new to Ramsey Campbell... this is a great place to start. If you've read Campbell before, you won't want to miss this collection. If you ever thought about read horror but don't know where to start, this is a great introduction.
I can't recommend this highly enough.
Review originally published in blog "Looking For a Good Book" (
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing, Wide-Spanning Collection 19 Aug 2013
By DerekAlanWilkinson Dot Com - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ramsey Campbell has been renowned as "Britain's most respected living horror writer." I can see why. This is a collection of his short stories, which, as you can tell by noticing the (slightly) changing themes and language throughout the course of the book, spans what he's written over a long period of time: kind of like a B-sides collection. That said, I definitely enjoyed it. Most of the horror in the stories doesn't come from anything extraordinary--but, rather, the day-to-day events of a person are stretched beyond terrifying experiences.

I find this approach to writing horror interesting. Very...well, I would compare it with Hitchcock, but that's my personal point of reference.

There are different kinds of horror writers. Some do it because they grew up sheltered, and want to shock the world with what really goes on in their heads. Others, who grew up in wretched conditions, want the rest of the world to see the horrors they've witnessed. Some write from a political angle, trying to convey their world concept through horror writing.

And some, like Ramsey Campbell, just seem to do it for the same reason that the person we know who's good at fixing cars or who collects certain antiques does it: because it's an extension of their personality. It's just who they are. They write horror "for horror's sake."

And that's the sort of classic angle you're going to get out of Ramsey Campbell--a horror writer that just looks at everyday circumstances, and sees something amiss, and creates art out of it.

His style might not be for everyone, but I feel his work commands respect regardless.
3.0 out of 5 stars A few holes in this collection... 5 April 2014
By Neil Kloster - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I've had mixed pleasures with Ramsey Campbell over the years. I've enjoyed several stories that I read of his in other collections and even enjoyed his "Scared Stiff" collection, but this collection did little to hold my interests or to provide much of a scare. I will say that Campbell does have a way of creating dread with his words, but this collection of stories simply - for me - just fell flat. I got through about the first six stories and felt that it was an uphill battle and while the first did provide some dark setting, the rest that I did read just did not hold my interest.

So while I do tip my hat to one of the Modern Master's of Horror Fiction, I don't think that this was one of his best collections. But I guess that's why they call this a review: opinion, not fact. Feel free to form your own.
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