FELLSTONES by Ramsey Campbell

I’ve been a fan of the work of Ramsey Campbell from as far back as I can remember. Back in the day I always felt his novels had a rather different style to that of his short stories, however I’ve noticed more recently that this style seems to have spread across his output, giving him a very distinct tone and feel. This is to be celebrated, because I consider Campbell to be one of the most unique voices to come out of the British horror genre.

Fellstones tells of the story of Paul Dunstan, who was adopted by the Staveleys following the sudden death of his parents (for which he blames himself), who moved away and changed his name in an effort to escape their strictly controlling ways. When his adopted sister Adele finds him and persuades him to journey back to Fellstones, the small north-western village named after the seven stone monoliths marking the village green, he reluctantly agrees. What purpose do the Staveleys have in store for Paul, and what is real significance of those sinister standing stones?

As with much of Campbell’s fiction, the dialogue is quite brilliant, at times laugh out loud funny. He has such an ear for phrasing and a skill at building up layers upon layers of detail until the characters’ psychological torment is palpable. This novel blends folk horror with cosmic horror, and is a great example of how ‘less is more’ subtlety works to greater success in the genre of weird fiction. Whilst I was provided with an advanced reading copy of this novel in order to review, it’s worth noting that the formatting was so poor that it made the experience a very difficult one, and at times I considered giving up. It was only my awareness of Campbell’s writing quality that persuaded me to continue. Perhaps other readers might not have been so determined.

Fellstones is published in September 2022 by Flame Tree Press. It’s a solid entry to the genre, and won’t disappoint fans of Ramsey Campbell or weird fiction in general. Recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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