Author: Ramsey Campbell
Publisher: Tor (2012-01-16)
Ramsey Campbell, acclaimed as one of the world's great novelists of horror and the occult, achieves new heights in his masterly Ancient Images.
"Britain's answer to Stephen King and then some," says the Dallas Morning News of this extraordinary writer, whose powerful, disturbing novels illuminate everyday reality in frightening and unforgettable ways.
In Ancient Images, Campbell focuses his nightmarish vision on a long-forgotten 1930ness Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi film, Tower of Fear. For reasons blurred by history, powerful forces suppressed the film and destroyed the prints. Nobody now living had seen the finished film until film researcher Graham Nolan's two-year search unearthed the sole surviving print.
Graham invites colleague Sandy Allan, a film editor at London's Metropolitan Television, to view Tower of Fear, but before the screening, the film disappears and the cycle of death begins.
This is a novel rich in images-of the land, of the bread of life, of blood. We watch in terror as Sandy gradually uncovers the shocking truth of the psychic violence that a family inflicts on itself and others. And we are drawn ever forward with Sandy as she perceives the inexorable power of a thirsty earth, a thirst that must be quenched. Rejecting her last chance to retreat, Sandy must overcome a terrible evil if she is to survive to tell her story.
Disturbing, menacing, Ancient Images is a finely crafted, superbly literate work that places Ramsey Campbell in a class by himself. His insights into the occult are deeply felt and make a lasting impression with a seer's vision into the secrets of the unknown, Ancient Images is the best yet from one of the most gifted authors of our time.
From Publishers Weekly
British horror writer Campbell here focuses on one of his most intriguing inventions, a horror film supposedly starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, made in England in 1938 and immediately suppressed. When film editor Sandy Allen decides to track down a print of the film, her detective work leads her to Redfield, a rural community known for the delicious wheat that grows on its rich soil, fertilized by blood from an ancient massacre and, it turns out, in need of a fresh infusion every 50 years to maintain its fecundity. During her search, Sandy is shadowed by bizarre creatures that sometimes look like dogs and sometimes like scarecrows. After Sandy finally pins down the connection between the film and Redfield, the creatures come out of the shadows and reveal themselves. Campbell's novels tend to be dense and less accessible than his short stories, but this narrative seems more relaxed and simplified-perhaps his most readable effort since his debut in The Doll Who Ate His Mother.
From Library Journal
A colleague's violent death and its apparent cause-a stolen copy of an old, never-released Karloff/Lugosi film-set film editor Sandy Allan on the trail of the film's origins and history. Mystery surrounds the movie, and as Sandy learns of the tragedies which haunted its production, she finds herself threatened by an ancient force protecting secrets deeper than the suppression of a 50-year-old movie. Interestingly, in this novel centered on a horror movie supposedly judged too disturbing to be shown in theaters, author Campbell makes it clear that his own view of the genre does not include the splatter films and paperbacks of the 1980's horror market. His brand of fear derives from atmosphere, suggestion, and his trademark fever-dream world, where litter scuttles across deserted sidewalks and toadstools gleam like eyes. Campbell is renowned among fans and writers alike as the master of a skewed and exquisitely terrifying style, and this latest novel will only add to his reputation.