Holes for Faces

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A childhood game becomes a source of terror, and so does a radio quiz show. Even Christmas decorations may not be trusted, and beware of that Advent calendar! A train journey may never end, unless it already has, and a visit to a hospital brings back more than memories. A myth about a horror film has unwanted consequences. If you are new to Ramsey Campbell… this is a great place to start. View 1 comment. Ramsey Campbell is a powerhouse name in horror and in his latest, Holes for Faces, he offers up a collection of short stories. For those already well-versed, it might feel a bit too familiar.

If that sounds contradictory, it is. In the long British tradition, he takes the mundane events of life and giv Ramsey Campbell is a powerhouse name in horror and in his latest, Holes for Faces, he offers up a collection of short stories.

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In the long British tradition, he takes the mundane events of life and gives them a most sinister twist. The fear is subtle and sublime; creeping up on you and catching you unaware. For old and new readers alike, he lures you into the shadows quite wonderfully. The difficulty for those familiar with his work is characterization and theme.

The stories here have a common thread that when read all together can feel too close to his other work. Fans of Campbell should take this collection in small pieces. There is always the question of where reality has ended and madness has begun. He becomes aware of the horrors that no one else can see.

This could happen to you he reminds us and that is the greatest fear of all. Aug 18, Iain rated it really liked it. Ramsey Campbell is perhaps a bit like Marmite. So I rushed to buy this book, downloaded it straight away, and enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. He has two main themes in his writing: he is the best contemporary Lovecraftian writer and he has a long track record in his own brand of psychological horror.


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His characters are outsiders; estranged from their societies and families, prone to their own fears and dark thoughts, vulnerable to supernatural exploitation as they agonise over whether th Ramsey Campbell is perhaps a bit like Marmite. His characters are outsiders; estranged from their societies and families, prone to their own fears and dark thoughts, vulnerable to supernatural exploitation as they agonise over whether the phenomena are real or the products of their fevered minds.

This collection falls mainly into the latter category. There are two outstanding stories: the title track, featuring a boy frightened by the skeletons in Italian catacombs how lame that sounds compared with the story and struggling with his own family anxieties; and the wonderful "Chucky Comes To Liverpool" which draws on Campbell's long-held interest in cinema and strong views on the scapegoating of horror films for social ills. There's also a nicely gory story of what appears to be school sports-day revenge in "The Address".

So, why isn't this five stars? The stories often appear to be similar in inspiration and concept. The alienated grandparent appears a few times, for example. This isn't really a problem if you like Campbell's writing - if you open a volume by MR James you don't have much choice other than antiquarian scholars stumbling into the supernatural - but more variety would have made a more rounded collection. I will end up regretting that minor observation as I'm now reading "The Last Revelation of Gla'aki", which is firmly Lovecraftian Campbell, and is shaping up to be five stars! Ramsey Campbell is a very well respected and prolific British horror writer, often referred to a modern Lovecraft.

This collection of short stories is not very Lovecraftian for that check out his early collection Cold Print. The 14 tales in this collection are disappointingly almost impressively samey. They feature only two similar types of main characters doddering old men or bemused children who react very similarly to very, very, very similar situations. Only one story managed to genera Ramsey Campbell is a very well respected and prolific British horror writer, often referred to a modern Lovecraft. Only one story managed to generate any atmosphere the very good "The Address" but these tales generate nary a scare with bland prose and a disappointing lack of breadth.

Cold Print failed spectacularly in its Lovecraft aping; this collection fails for different reasons.

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I'd like to try one of Campbell's novels because, as a massive horror reader, I feel like I might be missing something. Perhaps his long form work shows his strengths more than his short fiction. May 10, Evelyn Altheimer-fain rated it it was amazing. However as the reader progresses into the tales, the tension increases as the stories become more sinister and, well, down right creepy in that some of the stories make us question our innermost selves.

Jul 17, Matthew rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. Campbell is an excellent writer able to build a foreboding setting in just a couple of paragraphs. Sadly, his excellent prose is undermined by lackluster stories and characters. This collection of short stories falls almost entirely flat. In most of them nothing really happens.

Holes for Faces

Worse still, many of the protagonists felt like copies of one another. These stories are sort of like looking at a black and white photograph. Lots of mood, a good setting, but completely static. If that's your thing, gre Campbell is an excellent writer able to build a foreboding setting in just a couple of paragraphs.

If that's your thing, great. I prefer short horror stories where something either happens or the ending promises that untold horrors are about to unfold. Fans of Campbell might be into this, but this is the first of his works I have read. If you are looking to explore Campbell's writing, don't start here.

Aug 06, Bill rated it really liked it. I have only tried one of his older novels and it did not completely work for me, so I was a bit apprehensive about this one. I usually have a hard time with collections because I find a lot of the time the stories can be very inconsistent. Not, so with Holes For Faces. While some stories resonated more with me than others, I thought that they all were very good.

Looking back I think that I should have reviewed these as I was going along, but once I started, I didn't want to stop. Evidently, there is a reason Ramsey Campbell is considered a master. Because he is. This short story collection proves it. Now I get to go back and pick up some of his older stuff.

Jun 22, Stephen rated it really liked it. Reminde me of Lovecraft and the older horror writers, lot's of chills and a little Hitchcock endings. Thoroughly enjoyed Campbell's books. Atmospheric, lost characters Twilight Zonian? Mar 15, Shane rated it it was amazing Shelves: horror , short-stories. My absolute favourite horror author.

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Very creepy stories. The true definition of eerie and supernatural and creepy. If you want to really be scared, read anything by Ramsey 'The Grin of the Dark' is the very best though May 10, Steve Isaak rated it it was ok.


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Overall review : This is an uneven anthology from an otherwise good author I've read, enjoyed other works by him. James , so most, if not all of the stories in this collection are dread-effective in tone. I also admire how Campbell utilized recurring symbols and elements, like trains, childhood memories, familial discord, Hitchcockian intrigue, etc.

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What I didn't like about it : Many of the stories and characters were too long, too passive action-wise and too similar in structure and attitudes - almost to the point of being carbon copies of works that preceded them. There wasn't enough variation in his framing of his tales or diversity among his characters to make each of these stories burst with distinctive vigor.


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This makes Holes a sometimes interesting but often disappointing anthology. This collection is worth checking out for a few bucks, or borrowing from the library. If you're into the older style of horror which puts a heavy emphasis on mood, like Campbell, Onions or James, this may very well be worth picking up for more than a few dollars.

Standout stories : 1. Excellent, dread-suffusive work. Interesting, different story. Excellent, suspenseful. Good story, marred by a forced 'end on a spooky note' finish. Aug 12, Lou Sytsma rated it really liked it.