Book Review: Ghosts Know (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, September 05, 2013
Ramsey Campbell has fashioned a name for himself among fans of horror fiction, opening up shop as the go to spot for unsettlingly frightening prose. His novel The Last Voice They Hear was so unsettling that it prompted me to turn all of the lights in the house on and hug my cat. So it is quite fitting that as the Halloween season dawns, Ramsey Campbell unleashes a new yarn of earthly malfeasance coupled with possible unearthly haunting.
Ghosts Know is the tale of Graham Wilde, host of his own combative radio phone in show The Wilde Card. Graham is the type of stalwart British fellow who believes he's heard it all thanks very much to his line of work, and so his beliefs take a solid beating at the hands of potential charlatan psychic, Frank Jasper. While attempting to expose Jasper as a fraud on his show, Graham unwittingly becomes embroiled with the investigation into a missing teen girl. In short order Graham's life is turned on its ear, as his once secure world and beliefs unravel rapidly around him.
The narrative cooks on multiple stovetops, with rapidly brief chapters layered as delicious brownies, daring you to stop eating after each one, all the while knowing you won't. Ghosts Know breeds a compulsion in readers to complete just one more chapter in a way that the very best video games do. Ramsey's prose is wonderful, imaginative, and a joy to read. Experienced from Graham's perspective, Campbell strikes every chord of the internal monologue, driving home the exasperation and panic into which our protagonist descends.
Doubt fractures his calm at every turn, casting wide a net of loose red herrings. Not a noir piece by any stretch, Ghosts Know still offers an intriguing mystery, potentially worthy of the best Hard Case Crime novels. It bears quite a few tonal similarities to Stephen King's Joyland (currently leading the pack as my favorite read of the year), which is magnificent company to share a drink with. Campbell's language paints completely the portrait of someone's world coming apart; he wields anxiety like a scalpel with which he constantly excises any feelings of ease or complacency. Readers will find the horror is steeped directly in dread rather than shock, making Ghosts Know comparable more to a slow burning Hitchcock thriller than gore filled, jump scare fare.
Ghosts Know welcomes in the Halloween season subtly, and is the perfect companion to a pumpkin spiced coffee as chill replaces oppressive heat. Set to release on in hardback from Tor publishing on October first, I can not recommend Ghosts Know highly enough as the perfect, brisk kick off to the spooky season. Ghosts Know is priced at $25.99 and you can find more information Right Here. Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.
Mania Grade: B+
Author: Ramsey Campbell
Format: Hardcover, 288pages