cover image The Influence

The Influence

Ramsey Campbell. MacMillan Publishing Company, $0 (260pp) ISBN 978-0-02-521160-5

Campbell, probably the foremost practitioner of the horror story in Great Britain today has produced his eighth novel under his own name. The author's longer works tend to be rather muted, unlike his intense short stories; this one, after the usual slow opening, is more lively and effective than his previous efforts. It concerns a strong-willed, wrathful spinster known as Queenie, who has spent a lifetime terrifying and controlling her siblings, nieces and nephew. Her death is a reliefbut Queenie returns, in the form of a young girl, to further destroy the family by befriending and then abducting her grand-niece Rowan, changing her from a sweet-natured, generous child into something ""other.'' This is a chilling work and the fullest treatment of one of Campbell's recurring themesthe psychic violence family members wreak upon one another. (February)