Written by: Drake Morgan
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 not familiar with Campbell’s work this is a great introduction. For those already well-versed, it might feel a bit too familiar.
If that sounds contradictory, it is. Campbell’s style is classic English Gothic, heavy on the atmosphere, tone, and suspense rather than the gore and bloodshed. 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. He’s still a stellar, much needed voice in horror. His vague sense of unease that grows into sheer terror is a welcome change from the splatter/ gore. There is always the question of where reality has ended and madness has begun. “Peeps” takes us on a macabre trip through surreal madness. “Getting It Wrong” explores the nightmares of aging and that subtle shift into the unreal world of possible senility as we lose the connections with the modern world. The title story, “Holes for Faces,” is a tale of sliding realities in which our protagonist sees a very different world around him. He becomes aware of the horrors that no one else can see. These stories reflect Campbell’s ability to take normal and tilt it just far enough to create fear. This could happen to you he reminds us and that is the greatest fear of all.