By the Light of My Skullby Ramsey Campbell
Before I could prevent myself I jerked up the flashlight beam. What did I see? Not much for long, but far too much. The hands belonged to a shape that occupied all the space on a solitary dilapidated chair. Like the hands, the shape appeared to owe its substance to the grime that was everywhere in the dark. Perhaps the soft insidious sound I heard was demonstrating how restless that substance was, but I had the awful idea that it could be an attempt to breathe. I just had time to glimpse a face eyes as black and unstable as the rest of the lopsided bulk, nostrils desperately dilating, lips that sagged into a helpless grimace and then struggled to produce another expression if not to speak before the figure collapsed...
By the Light of My Skull collects many of Ramsey Campbell s recent tales of supernatural horror and psychological disintegration, and finds disquiet in the most familiar places. A game of Bingo and its calls conceal a dark secret, and the number-plates of cars convey a monstrous message. A headphone commentary guides a visitor to a stately home deep into terror, and the remains of a funfair are unearthed, awakening much worse. A fairy tale is retold for our time both grim and Grimm and a page from a book turns into a tribute to one of the greatest creators of fantasy. A search on a beach brings an uncannily unwelcome helper, and a return to a childhood memory rouses a nightmare. The power of the first great horror film refuses to stay on the screen, and even a Beatles tour contains the seeds of madness. The classically spectral is roused by brass rubbing, and Halloween is celebrated by an apparition. A bird hide conceals an increasingly sinister watcher, and a communication from the dead letter office leads to the restless dead. The passwords we all need these days may work on our nerves, but here they re the source of worse than panic.
The book is illustrated by the award-winning artist J. K. Potter, whose surreal images perfectly complement the nightmares in the prose.
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John Ramsey Campbell (born 1946) is a British horror writer.
Since Ramsey Campbell first came to prominence in the mid-1960s, critics have cited Campbell as one of the leading writers in his field: T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today", while S. T. Joshi stated, "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."