Alone With the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction, 1961-1991 - Ramsey Campbell This definitive collection deserves at least three stars for it extensive retrospective of 30 years of Ramsey Campbell's short fiction. It collects 35 of his best including all of an earlier anthology titled Dark Feasts. It is the perfect collection to discover and assess Campbell's literary output.

But that's not an easy thing to do. While Campbell can be a eerie but effective writer, he is also a bit frustrating. At his best, he can evoke a form of urban unease. He may be one of the first horror writers in which the term Urban Fantasy may fit but it is a totally different type of urban fantasy from the kind we are used to now. Campbell combines urban blight, suburban malaise, and the post-modern socio-psychological angst and combines it with psychological and supernatural horror. His first writings were Lovecraft imitations but he then became adept at mixing the Lovecraftian horrors with everyday British family and culture. It's a nice mix when it works.

But that's the problem. It often doesn't. The author's style can be obtuse and over-introverted. His descriptions can be mangled and he sometimes stops the action with a bevy of descriptive phrases. The average horror readers raised on King and McCammon will find his tales too introverted. However those who like their horror to be atmospheric and implied will find much to like. Campbell is clearly an acquired taste.

So I can recommend this as a good introduction to Campbell. If you enjoy these stories I would recommend you read one of his novels. I greatly prefer his longer fiction. I'm going to call this one at three and a half stars.