Ramsey Campbell. PS Publishing, $50 (416pp) ISBN 978-1-902880-96-9
Readers will hesitate to visit their favorite chain bookstore after finishing this horror tour de force from British author Campbell (The Darkest Part of the Woods). Texts, an American bookseller, has just opened its first U.K. outlet in newly built Fenny Meadows retail park, and manager Woody Blake is struggling to whip the store into shape, despite such perplexing setbacks as computers spitting out flyers with embarrassing typos and books nightly disarranging themselves on the shelves and oozing grubby residues. You might think that something from the boggy terrain was corrupting the store environment-and indeed that's what a local author suggests when he recounts the site's ancient history of draining itself, then swallowing up villages built on it. The stage is set for shocking revelations when Woody calls for a work all-nighter and the staff finally see what's patronizing their store after hours. Eldritch horrors are Campbell's forte, and he does a brilliant job of insinuating them into the modern work environment through computers, cell phones and security cameras whose apparent malfunction is an index to the indescribable forces they channel. His rich and evocative prose serves, like the Fenny Meadows fog, to wrap scenes in a dense miasma of disturbing images and shadowy shapes. Nearly plotless, this novel is one of his most sustained exercises in atmosphere and a high water mark of horror. Agent, Kay McCauley. (Apr. 1) FYI: Campbell has won more than 20 World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Bram Stoker and other major awards.
Reviewed on: 12/01/2003