Thursday, 25 March 2021

[Review] - THE SEARCHING DEAD by Ramsey Campbell




Once upon a time (or otherwise known as my teenage years), I was addicted to horror paperbacks that I would buy at a now-defunct used bookshop. Being a loner, I would carry a paperback either in a jacket or pants pocket, and if I ever had a free moment, I would read my heart out. One of the authors I discovered back then was Ramsey Campbell, the author of The Parasite, The Claw, and The Hungry Moon.  


Recently, Flame Tree Press released Campbell's THE SEARCHING DEAD (book 1 in The Three Births of Daoloth trilogy) on paperback, hardback, and eBooks formats. (FYI - A few years ago, PS Publishing published the trilogy as limited-releases.) A new edition of the sequel, Born to the Dark, will come out this Fall, followed by the final book, The Way of the Worm, at a later date.

Set in post-WWII Liverpool, THE SEARCHING DEAD centers on a young wannabe writer Dominic Sheldrake, who witnesses a mysterious figure pulling something up from the ground in a cemetery. Later, when Dominic begins his first year at "The Holy Ghost School" grammar school, he suspects his teacher, Mr. Christian Noble, is the man from the cemetery. Believing something is at fowl, Dominic and his pals Jim and Bobby are determined to learn what deep dark secrets Mr. Noble is hiding from everyone.


Final Thoughts

Ramsey Campbell is one of the masters of the horror genre - and his talents shine bright in THE SEARCHING DEAD with his unique descriptive narrative that places the reader right beside the young protagonist, Dominic Sheldrake, a deeply enriched, likable character. The coming-to-age story started a little slow for my usual tastes. However, the pacing picked up within a few chapters, many thanks to Ramsey Campbell's gifted talent for creating beautiful descriptions and lively dialogue. There are haunting and gut-turning scenes that stayed in my mind long after I read them.

Overall, THE SEARCHING DEAD is a must-read for any horror fan.

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