Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CBR4 #25: The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell

On its surface, this book sounded like something I would like. A movie critic/historian sets out to write a book about Tubby Thackeray, a silent-era film star who has been all but forgotten by the modern era. Unfortunately, it turns out that things would have been a lot better if Tubby had stayed forgotten.

The problems I had with this book were probably mostly personal. I didn't like the narrator at all--I found him to be something of a spineless twerp--and none of the other characters appealed to me either. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed that Tubby didn't crawl out of the screen Ring-style and eat everybody in the first 100 pages. Plus, I am very iffy about unreliable narrators. Although sometimes the effect can be used really well, in this one I found it extremely obvious and therefore a bit lame.

Some of the imagery was good, and I did appreciate the tone of ever-rising paranoia and tension, but there were long bits that consisted of the narrator arguing via message board with an anonymous commenter...who spelled terribly.  I know it was intentional, but as a word nerd, that just irked me no end. I got what the author was going for, I just didn't like it very much.

Allegedly, this book is very Lovecraftian. I don't know about that, as I haven't gotten around to reading any Lovecraft yet. I'll just say that while others might enjoy this book, it wasn't for me.

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