This is Ramsey's return to the supernatural novel after some years departure into crime and thriller territory, and it's a return that's been eagerly awaited. Thanfully, he's on fine form, this book has all of what's made the best of his horrors so memorable, containing elements of Midnight Sun and The Hungry Moon especially, but breaking sufficient new territory to keep readers gripped. It's one of his most subtle works, but gradually sows its seeds of unease in the mind, and the climactic woodland scene is gripping. The book is painfully expensive of course, but you'll know by now whether you want to pay that much for it or not. I did! Let's hope we don't have to wait another four years for the next one.
Whilst the whole debate about what constitutes a piece of horror fiction rages on - with camps firmly established on either side of the genre divide - it's entirely heart warming to know that there are those writers who couldn't care less; who produce works of outstanding quality and allow the results to speak for themselves. And in this return to all things supernatural, Ramsey Campbell re-affirms himself as king of the trade.
The book is rich in the most subtle yet disturbing descriptions, leaving the reader quite literally haunted by the prose and yet simultaneously captivated, forever wanting to return to its pages. Mr Campbell makes us attach to, and care about, the main characters with prolific ease and provides an eerie background against which our beliefs are willingly suspended. As each page is turned the woods become darker - a very clever trick indeed - and our interest deepens as we begin to sense what macabre ends are in sight, whilst all the while we start to feel those good old goosebumps gradually growing in numbers and creeping across our skin. This book really is a whole lot more than very, very good. It's more like a 'how to' and guide for any aspiring or already published horror writer.
The Darkest Part of the Woods is a fine addition to that age-old school of chills for entertainment. Whilst the plot isn't particularly complex (a comment made as a compliment) the craft of the writing is so sublime that the simplest of notions are transformed into uneasy prospects that remind us what it was like to fear the dark and genuinely believe that anything could happen.
Historically I have found Campbell's work to be rather verbose and unengaging. Since this had received good press I thought I'd revisit his work, alas I still found the prose dense, with swathes of pages which did little to propel the story in any meaningful way. Campbell's approach to horror is similar to John Saul's, where the tension is delivered from character driven fear and the creation of an unseen and affecting malevolence, however The Darkest Part of the Woods produces little of either. It's not compensated by any action either, ultimately producing a novel that has rather little to offer. Clearly there is a market for Campbell's work, however I found very little entertainment within the pages, although I was interested in how finished, suggesting the basic premise has value.
After many sub-par novels this is certainly a return to form & is one of Campbells finest novels. Although I'm not usually a fan of 'family in peril' stories this one managed to get under my skin. Its Campbells ability to hint at the wrongness that slowly builds round his charcaters that makes it all work.
The story begins when a family comes together after an absence. and their is talk about this wood which their father visited and found a strange Psychedelic moss. Thats not what the story is about however. The plot is about how the wood seeps into the lives of these people and finally ends with an ordeal within it. Its not especially creepy, but its nice to read a Horror writer that uses a fairly large vocabulary and long sentence's. But i guess if it aint creepy then it aint horror.