The Influence by Ramsey Campbell
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Today’s blog post is about Flame Tree Press rerelease of The Influence by Ramsey Campbell. If you don’t know who Ramsey Campbell is, then I will assume that you have been living under a rock for the last fifty years, and if you have been living under a rock, then I am happy to welcome you back to society, a lot has happened whilst you have been away…. Anyways, back to Ramsey Campbell, he is a horror author with over 30 novels, several of them considered classics, and he has also written hundreds of short stories. He has received a staggering number of awards throughout his career. So, you should now know this man knows his horror.
The publisher Flame Tree press have released some great books since they launched last year (2018), so when I saw that they were rereleasing The Influence, the classic from 1988, naturally I became happy, I got happier when I got an ARC copy of the book! (I was planning to buy it anyways!) Thanks Flame Tree Press! So, back to the book.
Queenie is the ageing matriarch of the Faraday family, and even death can't break her hold over her eleven-year-old granddaughter Rowan. She's buried with a locket that contains a lock of Rowan's hair, and soon afterwards Rowan is befriended by a mysterious uncannily intelligent girl of her own age. Only her aunt Hermione suspects how sinister this is, but will retrieving the locket save her niece? By the time anyone sees what effect the ghostly influence on Rowan is having, it may be too late for her. if the child who takes her place in the family isn't Rowan, Rowan may be somewhere else not quite like our world...
So, what can one say about a horror classic that was released 31 years ago, that have not been said before? Not much it turns out.
I could point out how the characters are flawed and realistic, and you feel their pain, frustration and terror, and you feel their love and need for each other. I could also mention how Alison’s dynamic with her immediate family is believable and reminiscent of real-life families, and Derek’s frustration with his work situation and his relationship with Alison’s family is palpable. Or Rowan’s need to feel loved and Vicky’s use of that need.
I could also talk about how Liverpool rendered in all its rainy, soggy and misty glory, where you feel every soggy step on the cobblestones. Or the oppressing atmosphere of Queenies home, from the feel of the peeling wallpaper or the smell of her mouldy books.
Also, I could mention how flawlessly the writing flows from ordinary everyday life to uncertain nightmarish landscape where nothing seems real, its subtle and you will only realize what is happening when it is too late.
I could talk about all these things, but I won’t, because that have been said before by others, articulated better than what I can!
What I will say that the thing that strikes me the most is how timeless this book feels, whereas other books have a tendency to be mired with titbits of its time, The Influence feels like it could have been written two weeks ago and not 31 years ago. Yes, there are no mobile phones, flat screen tv’s or internet on these pages, but when do you really notice that in your everyday life? they have become one with the daily background static. In the book you find the bare essentials for what is needed for a good horror story, the timeless essentials, that is why it is a classic, and if you don’t believe me, then read the book and find out for yourself!
So, in the end this book has it all, family dynamic, evil matriarch, creepy children, old houses and mould (I really hate mould, like deeply seated hate)
And again, thank you, Flame Tree Press, for this book!
Notes on book:
Page number: 288
Publisher: Flame Tree Press