By Ramsey Campbell
Published by Flame Tree Press
I only recently read Campbell for the first time – his name not being a staple here in the states, as it is overseas – so I’m still learning what to expect from his writing. Though I found The Wise Friend to share more fantasy elements than horror, The Influence feels much more at home in the scare department (even if it is a bit slow at times).
There’s a family bullied by an aging matriarch (the great aunt, Queenie), but it seems they may have caught a break when the old broad dies. Of course, that’s not the case! The little girl in the family soon makes a mysterious friend, one that strikes her aunt Hermoine as too familiar to be coincidental.
I can’t say much else without simply giving away the story, but there aren’t any twists or turns to be had (sadly) – you will likely guess every step of the way what will happen next. Despite this easy layout, the haunting-like story that takes place here is one I found genuinely creepy and entertaining. Unlike The Wise Friend, I definitely felt like I was reading a horror novel, and though I’m not easily scared, I found this title unnerving at times (maybe because it involves a child in danger, which is usually a trigger for me). But this story never goes too far or does anything overly explicit or extreme – it’s the kind of horror story that I’d expect to work just fine for someone new to the genre. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Campbell has a unique voice that keeps even the slower moments well-read.
There’s a Netflix adaptation of this one that was released in the last year or two (which I’m assuming is the reason behind Flame Tree Press putting out this book – it’s originally from the 80s), but I have yet to see it as I do not have a current membership with that service. However, whenever I do get around to seeing it, I will update this review with a side-by-side comparison.
Though not overly exciting and fast-paced, I enjoyed The Influence enough that I am still interested in reading more Campbell. I have another three titles on the shelf, so I’ll be looking forward to those.
*I received a paperback ARC from the publisher for review consideration.*
Review by Aiden Merchant (Author of Dead as Soon as Born)
www.aidenmerchant.com (Also on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon)
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