The Grin of the Dark Hardcover – 8 Jul 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Once upon a time Tubby Thackeray's silent comedies were hailed as the equal of Chaplin's and Keaton's, but now his name has been deleted from the history of the cinema. Some of his music-hall performances before he went to Hollywood were riotously controversial, and his last film was never released - but why have his entire career and all his films vanished from the record?
Simon Lester is a film critic thrown out of a job by a lawsuit against the magazine he helped to found. When he's commissioned to write a book about Thackeray and restore the comedian's reputation, it seems as if his own career is saved. His research takes him from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, from dusty archives to a hardcore movie studio. But his research leads to something far older than the cinema in its latest and most dangerous shape...
Ramsey Campbell has found terror in the lore of cinema before - in The Parasite and Ancient Images - and now he turns to the silent era. Lon Chaney once invited us to contemplate opening our door at midnight to be confronted by a clown. Just hope you never find Tubby Thackeray there or, even worse, on your television or your computer.
I've always found silent films somewhat unsettling. The unreal quality of the sped-up action and exaggerated stage business reminds me that I'm watching the dead at play.
`The Grin of the Dark' is unlike anything else I've read by Campbell, and Tubby Thackeray may be his most grotesque creation yet. Think of Murnau's `Nosferatu', but replace the skeletal vampire with a corpulent clown that leers directly at you through the screen.Read more ›
I love this book and have been raving about it to everyone!
The book is exciting and gripping keeping you interested from the first to the last page. I don't think I've ever read a book so fast in my life, I just wanted to keep reading on and on. Clowns have always been a good subject for horror (just take Stephen King's IT) however I've never seen the subject done so well and done in such a 'believable' way. The language and descriptive detail employed by Ramsey is fantastic and very effective in creating a sense of dread and impending doom, and unlike most books of this genre, it doesn't rely on a-scare-a-page gore tactics to keep it interesting. I've never actually read anything written before by Ramsey Campbell, but if this is the standard of his writing then I guess I'll be looking up his back-catalogue.
There no such thing as a perfect book and The Grin is no exception. There are a few plot holes that get left unanswered and the ending (while great) didn't seem quite right. But seriously these few minor faults don't detract from an otherwise gem of a novel. This is the kind of book you can read more than once and still enjoy and I strongly suggest you give it a go.
The blurb on the back of this 400 page book calls it the author's 'most disturbing novel yet' and while I haven't read all of his novels (about one I think and that years ago) I can quite believe it.
What Campbell has done and does so consistently on almost every page is to describe that gradual creeping disintegration of the protagonist's sanity and his reality. One incident does not follow on to another but piles on top of it until the mountainous accumulation has become unbearable to both the protagonist and this reviewer. Its unremitting accruing of detail upon detail is appallingly bleak. I can read novels or watch movies full of charnel houses of gore without blinking but this horribly effective yet bloodless book left me more queasy than a hundred Evil Dead movies and I really really hated it.
If anyone wants to claim that it's a masterpiece of horror fiction I wouldn't disagree with them at all. I just never want to see it again.
I like a good horror thriller, but I'm also interested in the early days of cinema, so this was a double bonus for me. The author provides good insight into those wildly anarchic early days of film comedy, and shows what a fine line there can be between broad slapstick fun and the stuff of nightmares. (This is done particularly well when Simon watches an old sketch of Tubby's, in which a dentist goes mad ripping out a patient's teeth). The characterisation is also good, and his Internet troll sections are absolutely spot-on! The only part of the book I really didn't like was the ending. It felt silly. Nonetheless this is above-average horror. Recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Package received in good time, item as described, very happy.Published on 29 Jun. 2014 by Emma Smith
This is almost certainly the finest reading experience I've ever had. The prose is like no other author's and, frankly, you'll either get with it or miss the point entirely. Read morePublished on 28 April 2014 by Gary Fry
although i have never writain a review for a book before, i felt compelled to write one for this book. This is the worst book i have ever read. Read morePublished on 11 Jun. 2013 by tama
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Read this over a day, atmospheric, unsettling, and an ending which provides food for thought. Great stuff by one of my favourite horror writers.Published on 24 Oct. 2011 by Spiritof76
I love horror and this was certainly not horror. It was long (which isn't usually a problem), talked alot but nothing was said. Read morePublished on 25 July 2011 by G Rees
I really wanted to like this book, as it and its author had been recommended to me by people whose opinions I respect. Unfortunately, however, I found it to be quite disappointing. Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2011 by Erastus Rosemond
Drawing towards the conclusion of this book now. I'm starting to wonder if Tubby himself wrote this book, or does he even exist? I don't know, I will check on the IMDB after this. Read morePublished on 11 Mar. 2010 by makar
Clowns - I hate them and this book didn't make me like 'em any more.
To be honest not my kind of book but overall enjoable if a little slow and maybe overlong in the... Read more
This is certainly one of Campbells finest novels. I think its up there with 'The Darkest Part of the Woods' & 'The Nameless'. Read morePublished on 3 May 2009 by P. Simpson