cover image The Wise Friend

The Wise Friend

Ramsey Campbell. Flame Tree, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-78758-404-4

A sense of eerie disquiet pervades this impressive supernatural thriller from Campbell (The Influence), winner of the Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. Patrick Torrington’s aunt Thelma, a misunderstood surrealist artist, died under mysterious circumstances when Patrick was a teenager. Now, years later, Patrick’s 15-year-old son, Roy, takes an interest in Thelma’s work, including a diary where she recorded the places she turned into landscapes. Father and son attempt to piece together the truth behind Thelma’s death, joined by Roy’s eccentric friend, Bella. Patrick begins to suspect that Bella’s wide-eyed innocence is merely a facade for a sinister motive when her relationship with Roy turns first romantic then co-dependent. In his search for answers about his aunt, Patrick discovers hints of the occult in Thelma’s paintings and realizes that both his son and the world are in danger. With razor-sharp prose, Campbell layers his satisfying narrative with intricate, unsettling details to create the feeling of glimpsing something strange out of the corner of one’s eye. Fans of cerebral, slow-burning horror will enjoy this twisty treat. Agent: Kay McCauley, Aurous. (Apr.)