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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best ever
Ramsey Campbell has produced some of the greatest short horror stories ever written. Most of them are in this volumn.
Mostly Campbell is influenced by H P Lovecraft rather than explicit gore or gratuitous violence - although there are always exceptions! So his writing style is completely different from say Stephen King, but both are masters of short horror fiction...
Published on 29 Aug 2006 by S J Buck

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent but excessively praised
Among comprehensive horror readers and writers for the last 30 years or so, either Ramsey Campbell or Thomas Ligotti are more referred to as the best living horror writers than anyone else. Since they have this status in the genre, people have preconceived ideas of what a leading horror writer should deliver and I think they often end up judging them unfairly for not...
Published 19 months ago by Mr. Robert A. Gilmour


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best ever, 29 Aug 2006
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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Ramsey Campbell has produced some of the greatest short horror stories ever written. Most of them are in this volumn.
Mostly Campbell is influenced by H P Lovecraft rather than explicit gore or gratuitous violence - although there are always exceptions! So his writing style is completely different from say Stephen King, but both are masters of short horror fiction in their different ways.

The stories within are as scary as horror fiction can get. Amongst my favourites are "In the Bag", and perhaps best of all "The Companion". You know how with some novels (King on occasions is an example) after reading through hundreds of pages you get to the end and think - is that it? I.e. the ending never quite leaves you satisfied despite the brilliance of the story telling before (again King). Well you won't get this with Campbell's short stories, his end with a punch, metaphorically a knock-out one to your head...

Another splendid volumn to get if this one becomes unavailable is Dark Companions which contains many of the same stories. You'll probably only get this 2nd hand but its worth searching out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent but excessively praised, 8 Sep 2012
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Among comprehensive horror readers and writers for the last 30 years or so, either Ramsey Campbell or Thomas Ligotti are more referred to as the best living horror writers than anyone else. Since they have this status in the genre, people have preconceived ideas of what a leading horror writer should deliver and I think they often end up judging them unfairly for not writing the sort of horror the reader would prefer and sees as the "proper" version of the genre. I didn't want to fall into this trap.

Campbell is someone you really want to get into because he has stuck firmly with the genre since the 60s, he has a very wide taste in horror, he has edited several anthologies, he appears in countless anthologies himself and seems to have at least one story included in all of those series devoted to the best new short horror fiction every single year. I enjoy a lot of his opinions you'll often see since he is always asked to contribute to all sorts of projects about horror across different mediums.

This book is often cited as the best introduction to Campbell, it is his choice of his own short stories from his first 30 years of output. There was a book called Dark Feasts that was an earlier attempt at the same thing but I don't think he was satisfied with it.

Most of the stories are set in modern urban Britain, roughly in the classic ghost story formula where a supernatural occurrence is gradually revealed. I've had the misfortune to live in the type of places these stories are usually set, I think they can present a problem because a lot of the old ghost stories were set in highly aesthetic locations and I think this is an important part of their appeal; so I think these modern locations work best at their most decayed or in abnormally beautiful modern architecture that has the right sensory qualities that can enhance a supernatural feeling. I think the settings usually aren't that stimulating, but there are enough good ones to let you know he is perfectly capable of them.
My other main problem is one shared with perhaps the greater bulk of modern horror: the almost obligatory emphasis on characters regardless of how interesting or important they are in the context of making the main concern of the story work. Campbell is quite good at sad and slightly odd people but a lot of the time I found the character details excessive and not really contributing anything to the main thrust of the stories.

Other small things is that I think he used "as slow as a nightmare" in more than one sentence, which is a bit too distinct to reuse. I also didn't like that he obviously puts things into stories that are annoyances and hates of his own, there is a place for that sort of thing, but I think it sticks out a bit much in these types of stories.

Celebrated stories like "Mackintosh Willy" and "The Chimney" are good, you can find these in numerous anthologies. Stories I think really deserve a mention are "End Of A Summers Day" because in a very short time it shows quite a unique upsetting happening that leaves you full of thoughts; "Call First" is a very nicely done traditional scary short; "The Fit" I think is more filled out than most, with fairy tale and sexual elements and some nicely composed imagery; my favourite is probably "The Brood" because it has one of the most satisfying urban locations, the character detail is just at the right level and the horror itself is visually described several times in a way that keeps your imagination going and keep guessing at what you are seeing, probably the scariest in the book.

Campbell is very skilled in many ways, he doesn't blunder in a lot of the places a lot of even my favourite horror writers do, but I'm sorry to say most of the time I was lukewarm or even bored by most of the stories. None of the stories are actually bad, all of them have good qualities, but I only found roughly 10 of the somewhere close to 40 stories satisfying. I think the hype around this book is excessive when I found it decent but not really satisfying.

But even if this had once been the best introduction to Campbell, he has filled the 20 years since with more short stories, next to a pile of novels nearing 30. So I couldn't judge him on this book and since he is in so many anthologies I'll be reading many more of his works before I decide if I want to try out his novels.

((The star rating represents how much I want you to buy this item and should not be taken as a measurement of artistic merit))
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthrawling mind twister!, 13 Dec 2002
This review is from: Alone with the Horrors (Paperback)
After owning this book for just 6 weeks i have read it cover to cover three times! Usually you pick up a book and after reading it once, you can say you know everything contained within it! When it comes to 'Alone With The Horrors' you cannot feel the need to put it down even to get yourself a drink, you just want to read and read. The descriptions make you feel although you are reading a picture book as the images jump out from within the pages and make you feel almost as if you are part if each scene. As you progress through the book you eyes are glued to the page as the story plays tricks with your mind and you feel the need to continue, even if to just set your mind at ease! As i said earlier you can read the book a multiple number of times and I feel that you gain an extra snippet of information and teasing facts each time!
This is an excellent book even for night reading as it is not too scary but is a gripping tale!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed, 3 Sep 2013
This collection did nothing but bore me. The writing style is terrible, basic and juvenile. Afterwards you will be asking yourself "What was the point of that"? Dreadful stuff.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great short stories, 3 May 2009
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Some of the best 'weird' short stories have been written by Ramsey and most of them are here. Fantastic fiction.
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2 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Alone with the boredom., 3 Feb 2008
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I have just finished reading Alone with The Horrors after reading another book of campbells short fiction 'Ghosts and Grizzly things' oh dear oh dear oh dear I liked only 4 stories in 37...... the problem is that their not scary. their not creepy. their not intrigueing. ( non of the skills of the horror writer are in evidence in these stories.) Often the author just waffles incoherently and your left thinking (what the hell is this about, i cant understand this flim-flam!)
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Alone with the Horrors
Alone with the Horrors by Ramsey Campbell (Paperback - 15 Sep 1994)
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