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The Grin of the Dark Hardcover – 8 Jul 2008

3.0 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (8 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076531939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319395
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.3 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,103,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Good horror writers are quite rare, and Campbell is better than just good"

Book Description

RAMSEY CAMPBELL MAKES HIS MUCH ANTICIPATED RETURN WITH HIS MOST DISTURBING NOVEL YET --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Synopsis from the publisher's website:

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an avid horror lover but to be honest, I've almost exclusively read Stephen King for the last decade or so. I had a bit of a binge and then found it hard to 'adjust' to other writer's styles. This is the book that has reminded me that there are other amazing horror writers out there, and it's the first book I've ever read by Ramsey Campbell. It's scary in ways that most horror isn't. Campbell does a great job of getting you invested in the character and empathising with him, so that when things start to take a weird turn you feel, as the reader, that you yourself are starting to go a little mad. It's quite unsettling to be involved in the story in that way!

I love this book and have been raving about it to everyone!
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By Andrew Kerr VINE VOICE on 6 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'The Grin Of The Dark,' written by Ramsey Campbell is a first-rate horror/thriller novel oozing with unequalled writing quality. The book follows the main character of Simon Lester, who is persuaded to investigate and write about Tubby Thackeray, a comedian-clown-movie star, whose career suddenly ended.

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
And yet I've given it a five star rating. Strange, isn't it? But I do mean both and this is why.

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.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Simon Lester's life hasn't quite gone the way he had hoped. At university he had showed signs of having an interesting career ahead as a movie expert, but now he is living in a rented room and working at a petrol station. Then suddenly, out of the blue, his ex-tutor turns up and offers him several thousand pounds to expand and publish his thesis on silent movie clown, Tubby Thackeray. Not surprisingly, Simon eagerly accepts his offer. He soon encounters problems though when he finds that Tubby has been almost entirely expunged from cinema history. Only odd scraps of film footage can be found, plus old press cuttings from his music hall days, when he was arrested for inducing a state of mass hysteria in his audience.

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.
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