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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best haunted house books, ever !, 14 Nov 1998
By A Customer
THE HOUSE ON NAZARETH HILL by Ramsey Campbell The man who is rightly respected as one of the greatest ever writers in the field of supernatural fiction has delivered here a masterpiece, one that I think nudges even the brilliant MIDNIGHT SUN into second on my list of Ramsey's best.
Amy Priestley is returning from church with her parents when they pass the burnt out shell of the "Spider House" on Nazareth Hill. Amy has always been afraid of this building and in an attempt to overcome her fears Oswald, her father, lifts her to a window to see inside. Something unspeakable looms from the dark and she nearly topples in fright from her father's grip. Amy vows never to return.
Ten years later, 16 year old Amy and her now widowed father move into Nazarill, the luxury flats that have been created from the ruins of the "Spider House". Amy has, she thinks, outgrown her fears and is happy to have a place that many in Partington might envy.
Soon though, things start to go wrong. A photographer dies whilst developing a shot of the residents, and the negative contains an image of a ghostly figure supplementary to the original group. One night Oswald stumbles into what he thinks is a huge spider hanging from an oak tree off the driveway. It is actually a mutilated cat. The oak is chopped down and discovered in the roots of the tree is an old Bible with some curious scribblings in the margins. "Must survive until they take me from this place" reads one ominous line. Amy begins to suspect some awful past buried in Nazarill's history. A past, as the book jacket says, that won't stay buried.
And this is the heart of the novel. Ramsey has created a haunted house story that towers above most of the other work in this sub-genre. It has been favourably compared to THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. A fair statement, but Ramsey adds layers that Jackson could never have achieved. There is a dream sequence in this book that rivals any by other such masters of the surreal as Aickman, Ligotti and Etchison. There is a growing sense of literary excellence in Ramsey's work and this book is no exception. There is a real desire to not only scare the hell out of the reader, but to do it in a way that satisfies our craving for intelligent work. Schlock writing is OK if that is where you get your kicks, but you can't tell me that there is any substitute for literary craftsmanship. Let me tell you, Ramsey has craftsmanship in spades.
In the afterword to the recent memoir of Frank Belknap Long, Ramsey says "I often wonder if I am as wrong as Frank to feel that my work is improving". Let me say now that not only is Ramsey improving with each book, but for me he has no near rivals in the field of contemporary supernatural horror. Truly, the man is an awesome writer, and one we should be proud to have among us.
'nough said.
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The House on Nazareth Hill
The House on Nazareth Hill by Ramsay Campbell (Hardcover - 11 July 1996)
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