cover image The Kind Folk

The Kind Folk

Ramsay Campbell. Tor, $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8245-0

Revered horror maven Campbell (Ghosts Know) combines suspense, fantasy, and mystery in this short novel, which never quite hangs together. When Luke Arnold’s family appears on a daytime talk show to allay his father’s suspicions that Luke was actually fathered by his overly involved uncle, they reveal instead that Luke isn’t related to any of the Arnolds. Luke, a successful stage comedian specializing in mimicry, then begins a meandering quest throughout England to discover the truth of his origins. Spurred by a series of tragedies striking those who might tell him what he hopes to know, including the uncle responsible for littering Luke’s childhood with stories of fairies and their ilk, Luke arranges his stage gigs to take him to the magical places of England and pursue his growing suspicion that he is, in fact, a changeling. Despite the urgency introduced with his partner’s pregnancy and the impending birth of their son, Luke’s sudden and unconvincing awkwardness around his family undermines much of the emotional arc of the story. The prose is sparse and compelling, but the tale is ultimately unsatisfying. (Aug.)