Ramsey Campbell - The Influence Jul 23, 2009 15:40:46 GMT
Post by Dreadlocksmile on Jul 23, 2009 15:40:46 GMT
When Queenie, the Faraday family’s ancient and oppressive matriarch, is finally laid to rest, no one could foresee the horrifying extent of her evil influence, even in death. As the Faraday family gets settled in the house, Alison’s daughter Rowan begins to make friends with a mysterous girl named Vicky. As the family’s closeness is put to the test, Rowan gradually begins to take on the characteristics of the late Queenie until a dramatic event in the family’s life changes everything. Then you begin to question who is really who.
First published back in 1988, Campbell’s psychological horror ‘The Influence’ delves into the world of the spirit and the afterlife. He quickly sets the situation of the book down, with the introduction of the very close-knit Faraday family, then slowly builds the tension as the story unfolds. Campbell’s characterization of the family is superb, making the characters believable and their personalities involved. The character of Rowan in particular is easily liked and draws upon your emotions as she discovers the true secret to her new friend Vicky.
The novel is written with a changing perspective from chapter to chapter. Campbell shifts back and forth in time between the characters, allowing a situation to happen with one character, then the next chapter would shift backwards and replay the events of the previous chapter through the eyes of someone else. This well-established technique can work well if done in the right manner with the right novel, but often (as in this case), can become tedious and frustrating.
The book is slow-paced and never really grips you with the plot. Campbell does manage to build up some tension and an underlying suspense after a while, but this somehow doesn’t seem to get the reader any more involved with the book. The novel’s principal idea that the last dream you have will last an eternity, as this is all there is left once death takes you, is an interesting and thought-provoking notion.
I wouldn’t say that the novel is a particularly bad one, but compared with other such novels of a similar theme available, this one seems to fall short a little. A Campbell fan will enjoy this book, but I wouldn’t suggest it as an introduction to his work.
The book was originally meant to be fully illustrated with J.K. Potter’s dark and twisted use of photography creating the illustrations. Back in 1987, Potter even came to England to live with the Campbells and shoot photos of Ramsey’s then ten-year-old daughter. The photos were shot in all the locations where the novel takes place, and are available in Potter's photographic retrospective 'Horripilations'.