The Way Of The Worm by Ramsey Campbell (book review).

October 3, 2018 | By | Reply More

Some authors have a very distinctive voice. Whatever they write the reader instinctively knows whose imagination has produced the text. Ramsey Campbell is one such. For anyone who has ever heard him read his work, the text of any of his novels will immediately conjure the dry wit and the voice of Liverpool. ‘The Way Of The Worm’ is no exception.

Campbell is not normally known for sequels but this book is the culmination of a trilogy involving the same characters, the others being ‘The Searching Dead’ and ‘Born In The Dark’. Time, though, has moved on. Dominic Sheldrake is now in his sixties and, at the start of this novel, has just buried his wife, Lesley. He is not coping well with his grief.

Their son, Toby, belongs to an organisation that calls itself the Church of the Eternal Three. He claims that it is not religious but that they practice meditation. Dominic is reluctant to go, especially because of memories of events that were outlined in the previous two novels. What changes his mind is three-fold. Firstly, he promised Lesley that he would look out for their son. Then he discovers that the leaders of the sect might well be the people he encountered before. Lastly, he is concerned that Toby and his wife Claudine are involving their four year-old

Seeing the leaders of the cult at a meeting, Dominic knows that they are the Nobles, whatever they are currently calling themselves, Christian, his daughter and grandson. He sees them as an unholy trinity and knows the people present at the meditation are being brainwashed, though he doesn’t know how the three are doing it. He needs some evidence to persuade Toby to take his family away. He manages to record the session on his phone and a conversation they have once the room has emptied. This he sends to his old friends, Bobby and Jim.

Bobby Parkin is a journalist, Jim is a retired policeman. The three have been friends from childhood and a trinity on the side of humanity. The recording and Bobby’s on-line article are enough to have the Nobles arrested and tried for incest. Unfortunately, though they are convicted, the sentences are suspended. From that moment, Dominic, Bobby and Jim become a focus, again, for the malevolence of the Nobles.

It is not necessary to have read the previous two books as all the relevant information is included here, neatly and surreptitiously as an integral part of the story telling. Campbell begins slowly, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the ordinariness of life before gradually ramping up the tension. The horror creeps in.

This approach is something Campbell is extremely skilled at and uses to great effect. It isn’t necessary to fully understand the mechanisms behind the events, the characters haven’t that clarity neither, to appreciate this novel. It is important to remember that this is a Ramsay Campbell novel. Don’t expect everything to turn out well. His aficionados will love it.

Pauline Morgan

September 2018

(pub: PS Publishing, Hornsea, Yorks. UK. 269 page hardback. Price: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78636-359-6)

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Category: Books, Horror

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