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Creatures of the Pool Mass Market Paperback – 30 Mar 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books (30 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843963840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843963847
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,608,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's a reason why Ramsey Campbell is considered by many as one of the finest horror writers ever, and those reasons are alive and well in Leisure's latest release, "Creatures of the Pool". Brimming with a surreality found only in waking fever dreams, "Creatures" is an utterly enthralling, brooding tale about ancient secrets buried in deep, dark, wet places that only exist in memory and dreams...but still ooze upwards from their burial places to shape and mold the reality of what we've become.

Gavin Meadows' relatively comfortable life is thrown askew when his eccentric father disappears without a trace shortly after sharing some strange research ideas with Gavin, ideas that smack more of obsession than research. Apparently, his father felt that watery secrets lurked in the subterranean tunnels beneath Liverpool; secrets steeped in mystery, ancient rites and beings, covered up by modern authorities. At first, Gavin is worried chiefly about his father's sanity and wellbeing, and that's all.

However, as hours and days pass and Gavin - however reluctantly - finds himself increasingly drawn into his father's studies, things fall apart. Distracted, he mishandles his tour guide duties. That, and the legendary history stored in his head to spice up his tours has mixed with his father's theories, turning the world around him into a hallucinatory haze of dreams, half-thought ideas and vague conspiracies. He encounters insubstantial beings more rubbery than human, experiences watery glimpses of amoeboid creatures haunting his steps, and suddenly has cause to distrust everyone he knows or meets: the policemen searching for his father, strangers on the street...even his girlfriend, Lucinda.

What is she hiding at the local library?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Creatures Of The Pool was originally published in 2009 by PS publishing but it's nice to see it getting a mass market paperback release from Leisure, even if many might come to it expecting a Swamp Thing rehash. I doubt if anyone reading a horror focused book review blog needs much of an introduction to Ramsey Campbell but just in case you stumbled onto this site by mistake all you need to know is that Ramsey Campbell is Britain's greatest living writer of horror.

Gavin Meadows runs historical ghost tours in his home town of Liverpool. His interest in the darker side of the city is shared with his eccentric father, Deryck who is pursuing his own quest to uncover a dark secret. When Deryck goes missing, Gavin picks up the trail of clues and it soon becomes clear his father was onto something but what that something was, is much less obvious. We follow Gavin as he tries to keep his work and relationships intact whilst, of course, trying to find his missing father.

Simple enough plot you might think but the plot and characters are almost secondary in this book. This is first and foremost a book about Liverpool, the whole book is filled with historical nuggets, references to songs and a deep, deep undercurrent of unsettling myth. It's the kind of book that has you looking twice at shadows or glimpsing over your shoulder to see what that movement was whilst reading.

Campbell's writing is like a fine wine, sure glug away and let it wash over you but take a moment to examine all the subtleties and you will be rewarded with a much richer experience. The writing makes full use of the third person narration to fully exploit the paranoia and sense of dread that pervades everything.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x972be960) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972c69b4) out of 5 stars Nothing Personal in My Disagreement 23 April 2010
By Fleurcat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a longtime appreciator of Ramsey Campbell, familiar with both his work and reputation. I read the previous, 5-star, review with great interest and I am NOT saying that that reader is wrong. I don't review most of the books I read. For one thing, I don't want to hurt the writers' feelings. The most famous ones, I figure, are least likely to be disturbed by any criticism. (At least from me.) I think objective standards for reviewing fiction books exist. I wanted to post my review with the one star I think the book deserves to make a point. Nothing happens in this book. Nothing. I read every word--and OK, the protag goes home, he goes to the library, he goes to his parents' house, etc. He buys umbrellas. But almost nothing actually does happen. Unlike the 5-star reviewer, I want things to happen. I'm not looking for 354 pages of atmosphere. But for someone who does appreciate that sort of thing, Campbell actually does do a masterful job. No sarcasm intended. (For those who read it, I'm referring to the repeated allusions to Liverpool and music, in particular.) Who's right, who's wrong? Neither of us two reviewers. Regardless of the existence of objective standards, whether you like a book depends on taste, on personal experience, personality, mood etc. When I finished reading the book, which I bothered to do mostly because it was Ramsey Campbell, I thought it would've been best represented as a short story. Even then I wouldn't have thought much of it. But I can now see that someone with a different mindset than mine could, and I thank the other reviewer for that. It's an important point, especially given the lack of civility in public discourse. The book was not to my liking. I wouldn't read it again. It was boring and repetitive. But I mean no offense to the writer or to anyone who reads it and reacts differently than I did. A respectful disagreement on matters of taste is not a personal criticism of anyone. I'd like to see a mature and jovial agreement to disagree civilly pervade our society. And let freedom reign with dignity.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972c6a08) out of 5 stars An utterly enthralling, brooding tale 27 Mar. 2010
By Shroud Magazine's Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's a reason why Ramsey Campbell is considered by many as one of the finest horror writers ever, and those reasons are alive and well in Leisure's latest release, "Creatures of the Pool". Brimming with a surreality found only in waking fever dreams, "Creatures" is an utterly enthralling, brooding tale about ancient secrets buried in deep, dark, wet places that only exist in memory and dreams...but still ooze upwards from their burial places to shape and mold the reality of what we've become.

Gavin Meadows' relatively comfortable life is thrown askew when his eccentric father disappears without a trace shortly after sharing some strange research ideas with Gavin, ideas that smack more of obsession than research. Apparently, his father felt that watery secrets lurked in the subterranean tunnels beneath Liverpool; secrets steeped in mystery, ancient rites and beings, covered up by modern authorities. At first, Gavin is worried chiefly about his father's sanity and wellbeing, and that's all.

However, as hours and days pass and Gavin - however reluctantly - finds himself increasingly drawn into his father's studies, things fall apart. Distracted, he mishandles his tour guide duties. That, and the legendary history stored in his head to spice up his tours has mixed with his father's theories, turning the world around him into a hallucinatory haze of dreams, half-thought ideas and vague conspiracies. He encounters insubstantial beings more rubbery than human, experiences watery glimpses of amoeboid creatures haunting his steps, and suddenly has cause to distrust everyone he knows or meets: the policemen searching for his father, strangers on the street...even his girlfriend, Lucinda.

What is she hiding at the local library? Why do the police seem unconcerned over his father's disappearance, vaguely threatening, even? And why does water trickle everywhere, and not normal water either but a thicker, viscous liquid teeming with a strange life that leaves even Gavin feeling bloated, misshapen...floating inside his body and head.

Campbell's masterful use of the first-person, present tense narrative puts readers directly into Gavin's head, making them subject to his increasing disorientation as the lines separating fact, reality, history, legend and race-memory fade and everything mixes together. There's the temptation to call this story intensely Lovecraftian, but doing so does Campbell a grave disservice. However much "Creatures" smacks of Lovecraft, it is Campbell's own. Better to call it a "Campbellian" tale, because though it instills a familiar dread, it belongs in a category all its own.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972c6e40) out of 5 stars A book both masterful and uneventful 14 Aug. 2010
By Magi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read some of Ramsey Campbell's work before, and was looking forward to reading this tale of strange happenings in Liverpool...boy, was I disappointed. I don't normally review books unless they stand out to me in some way, and unfortunately this one did--in a negative fashion.

It began with a great premise; a historical tour guide in Liverpool finds his father has gone missing after an altercation at the library over a mysterious bundle of papers that are claimed not to exist. From here we ride with the protagonist, Gavin Meadows, as he goes home, talks to the police, goes to his parents' house, goes home again, has sex with his girlfriend, goes to work...you get the idea. Although the book has a wonderfully distinct "flavor" to it, nothing else about it is distinct. There is no clear picture of the protagonist, his family or girlfriend, or even a good idea of what bad thing is out there throughout the entire novel. I found myself having to re-read parts of it, confused by Campbell's first-person narrative and vague descriptions, just so I could figure out what was happening. As an avid reader, it is very rare that I have to force myself to finish a book, but that's what I had to do! From beginning to end, this book was a total bore.

I hate to leave a negative review, knowing what difficult work a novel is, but this one really shouldn't have made it into print in the shape it's in. I don't recommend this book at all.
HASH(0x972c7228) out of 5 stars Who better to provide an alternate history rooted in fact and ... 30 Dec. 2015
By Steve Dillon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Creatures of the Pool was written by one of horror's grandmasters, the multiple award winning Ramsey Campbell. And it shows. It was written about Liverpool, the place where Ramsey Campbell grew up and his written about many times. And it shows.

An alternate history is presented through the eyes of our narrator, who is a tour guide. Who better to provide an alternate history rooted in fact and fantasy in equal measures? The superficial storyline (the narrator's missing father etc.) is somewhat irrelevant and has almost become a plot device to provide us with a very slow burning, almost tantric approach to the creeping terrors. We may not get the big bang climax of a short story, but we're repeatedly taken to the brink and shown a glimpse of horror. Reveals and illusions are interplayed, horrors are hinted at and humour is used repeatedly until we almost accept the situation and the alternate history as factual. I can't wait to listen to it (I have it on audio) again, preferably the next time I visit my home town of Liver-pol...Creatures of the Pool
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x972c730c) out of 5 stars Excellent....bizarre Liverpudlian history combined with an "Innsmouth" sort of theme... 17 May 2010
By S. Boone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am always excited to read a new Ramsey Campbell book, and I had accidentally stumbled across this one, not realizing it had been released. In a way, this book sort of draws a bit on H.P. Lovecraft's "Shadow over Innsmouth", although on a larger scale. The book also combines some true but bizarre Liverpudlian history (I looked some of it up) with Campbell's own inventions, as well. Basically the story is that of a Liverpool tour guide whose father, somewhat of a crackpot historian, has mysteriously disappeared, and as he attempts to find him, circumstances become more bizarre and he becomes aware that things may not be what he's thought them to be for many years. And that perhaps those around him are not what they appear to be either.

I am surprised to see some of the negative comments about this book, but I guess I'd expect that. I've read Campbell's books since the late 70's and it does take some getting used to. They're not easy reading and sometimes you actually have to think and re-read a bit to get what he's saying, so his books are definitely not for those with no patience. However, I find his stuff to be a bit more disturbing and creepy than your typical mainstream American writers. He's definitely not for all tastes but Campbell has been my favorite author for a number of years and "Creatures of the Pool" is his best in some time. 5 stars.
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