Read Incarnate by Ramsey Campbell Free Online
Book Title: Incarnate|
The author of the book: Ramsey Campbell
Edition: Tor Books
Date of issue: September 1st 1984
ISBN 13: 9780812516500
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 2.24 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.9
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(Full review 2/18/17)
(This image is a much better representation of just how badass the cover art by Jill Bauman is, compared to the one up top.)
Other than Richard Laymon, I can't think of any horror writer who's as divisive as Ramsey Campbell. People seem to either "get" him or they don't. Myself, I'm somewhere in the middle. I believe his collections from the 70s-early 90s are among the very best the genre has to offer, but I haven't had nearly as much luck when it comes to his full-lengths. I've yet to read a novel of his that even approaches the masterful level of, say, 1982's Dark Companions. Until now.
Incarnate is the very definition of a mind-bender (or reality-bender). Eleven years ago, five people who'd shown undeniable signs of prophetic dreaming were brought together for a controlled experiment, in order to study this remarkable phenomenon. It ended in some mysterious, mostly unexplained disaster, but the subjects all eventually moved on with their lives and lost contact with each other.
But now, some very strange, seemingly supernatural occurrences are starting to invade their lives (i.e. fleeting glimpses of something(s) vile and hideous all around them; being trapped in endless dark alleys or stairways, etc), and it's becoming nearly impossible for these former subjects to separate dream from reality. Also, the horrible visions they'd experienced during the experiment seem to be coming true, and they all must find each other before their freaky-as-hell dream worlds take the place of "true reality."
This one especially affected me, I suppose, because I've always had the irrational fear that the world isn't real. The worst nightmare scenario I could conjure up for myself would be to discover that my whole life has been a dream or hallucination, and there's no way out. Which probably explains why Philip K Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of my four or five all-time favorite novels (not really a spoiler, btw, as it's the main concept of that book. Plus the novel's over 50 years old, and I believe there's a statute of limitations for that sort of thing. So there).
Incarnate nearly approaches that level, but it suffers a bit from the fact that it's 500 pages long, which would be more like 600-plus if reprinted with today's larger typesetting. That's way too long for any horror novel, imo. It's nearly impossible to maintain the eerie tension and weirdness over such an epic length. There are some exceptions to that rule, of course (Straub's Floating Dragon is a doorstop, and it's near-perfect to me), but I felt this book was overly padded to the point where several chapters at a time would go by where nothing of much interest happens, causing my own interest to wane periodically.
Still, the final third of the novel kicks it into high gear and more than makes up for all that, containing some of the most harrowingly surreal and nightmarish imagery I've come across in 80s horror, a handful of which will probably stick with me for a long, long time, even if Campbell's writing style can be a bit "blurry" and hard to follow at times. It's a book where my appreciation will only continue to grow over time, I feel, though for now I'm sticking with my 4-star rating.
But I reserve the right to raise it one day if it happens to strike my fancy.
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Read information about the authorRamsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today," while S. T. Joshi has said that "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."
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