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The Darkest Part of the Woods Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (September 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765346826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765346827
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A forest haunted by a horror older than time and channeled by one unfortunate family is the foundation of this gripping horror extravaganza, Campbell's first novel of the supernatural in six years. Set in environs fans will recognize from his early Lovecraftian fiction, it focuses on the Price family, who have had an uneasy association with Goodmanswood since patriarch Lennox migrated to England to study its dark legends and succumbed to belief in them. With Lennox institutionalized and serving as cult leader to some of the asylum's creepier inmates, the responsibility to hold the family together has fallen to daughter Heather, a library archivist who traces her father's cryptic remarks about the woods' history to accounts of Nathaniel Selcouth, an alchemist who resided there and who schemed "to create a messenger or servant that would mediate between him and the limits of the universe, both spiritual and physical." Heather's investigations dovetail with sightings by frightened neighborhood children of a grotesque "sticky man" glimpsed among the trees, and strange events that bedevil the family. Campbell (Obsession) is at the top of his form here, infusing every scene and scrap of dialogue with a sense of inescapable menace and manipulating nature imagery in such a way as to give it a malignant supernatural character. A richly textured tale of modern horror with classic roots, it confirms Campbell's reputation as one of the most formidable dark fantasists working today.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The inmates of Mercy Hill in England have visions--the remnants of their 1960s experiences with the hallucinogens growing in Goodmanswood, to which Dr. Lennox Price, intending to study them, fell victim instead. The rest of his family wasn't immune to the woods' allure, either. His younger daughter, just returned from the Americas, went there ostensibly for research for her next book. His grandson discovered himself unable to leave the area, even for a job interview. His ex-wife wandered the woods in search of objects for her art and, after Lennox's death, saw him in the woods' shadows. His elder daughter, though, seems resistant to the madness that plagues the family, yet something in Goodmanswood awaits her, too. At the woods' heart stand the ruins of a tower that once belonged to an alchemist contemporary to the infamous Elizabethan magician John Dee, and there is something far older and more powerful there, as well. This satisfyingly nasty mood piece has one starting at shadows and attending to odd noises in the dark. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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While not overly interesting, the characters weren't that boring.
Mike Kazmierczak
Mr. Campbell has a writing style that has always seemed authentic and somehow slightly antiquated in a good way (or maybe just very British) ..
S. Owens
The ultimate horror of this book is reserved for those compelled to finish any book they start.
krakatoa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dark Mechanicus JSG on October 24, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Darkest Part of the Woods" is less of a return to form for British horror Grandmaster Ramsey Campbell and more of a homecoming jaunt to his old, familiar haunts: the dark thickets and menacing woodland traipses of Southwestern England, where the Elder Gods slumber beneath rotten standing stones, and hungry, withered things wait and watch for the innocent and unwary.

For those with the patience to penetrate its thickly forested perimeter and discover its mysteries, "The Darkest Part of the Woods" ultimately proves a darksome treasurehouse, and Campbell ratchets the atmosphere up from slight unease to soul-stifling terror. This is a tasty spiced October brew of ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties, but in Campbell's England there are no Saints left to preserve us.

"Darkest Part" starts with a peculiar kind of homecoming for the Price family. The mad patriarch Lennox Price, presiding over a circle of his fellow inmates in a Brichester madhouse, issues a mysterious summons to his estranged wife Margo, a London artist starving for inspiration; stoic daughter Heather, now a university librarian struggling with her listless teenage son, Sam; and Sam himself, still wrestling with what he thought he saw as he camped in a tree shelter one night, something so vast and shadowy that he lurched off the platform in terror and snapped his leg.

Lennox Price was formerly a brilliant toxicologist who came to the Goodmanswood in the Severn Valley to study a peculiar fungus in the depths of the forest.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By S. Owens on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book felt, smelled, and oozed autumn. The best "something wrong with the woods" story ever. At one point Mr. Campbell tips his hat to the Blair Witch Project with a mention of Burkitsville, which is fitting. Like The BWP this book gives you hints and clues, and enough "what the hell was that's" to hint at something nameless and ominous, but always lets the reader complete the picture. Another reason it works as with all his other books, you give a damn about the people that fill the pages. I genuinely felt bad for our artist/mother when her work fails to inspire, or the brother who fears he has been spending a little too much "quality" time with his aunt. Mr. Campbell has a writing style that has always seemed authentic and somehow slightly antiquated in a good way (or maybe just very British) .. It never feels like your reading Stephen King...you can tell his influences are much older.. Lovecraft, Blackwood, and Machen. Darkest Part of the Woods has a hint of decadence as well..Huysmans come to mind. Highly recommended for those who enjoy their horrors lush and literate.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Hodges on June 12, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ramsey Campbell is a bit of an aquired taste. This most literate of horror writers is not out to race your pulse or gross you out. Thrill seekers should search elsewhere. But for those of you able to settle into moody, carefully crafted prose, the subtle delights set him apart from his run-and-gun contemporaries. If most horror fiction is beer to be guzzled, this is cognac to be savored.

Ramsey Campbell has obviously had some experience with psychedelics. Any knowledge you may have in this realm will add to the verisimilitude. If you've read H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James, and/or Robert Aikman you can better appreciate the literary traditions Campbell draws upon.

I have little to add to the story descriptions ably discussed in other reviews. One additional warning, the paperback version is printed in the smallest type I've ever seen (or not seen). Unless you have excellent vision, buy a new or used hardback copy. And sip s-l-o-w-l-y.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on May 22, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Books should be approached with an open mind, I've always believed. Darkest/Woods is one of those novels that is more atmosphere than adventure. If you allow it to proceed at its own pace, it will weave its web around your mind. Subtle - no Stephen King antics here - but effective, it's sense of threat and menace grows a bit with every chapter. It's not Nightmare on Elm St, but I'll tell you, I sure wouldn't set foot in that woods. Campbell is a capable writer.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I wouldn't call this a return to form for Campbell, who excels at many forms, and has done some of his finest work in thrillers such as THE ONE SAFE PLACE. But it is a return to the supernatural form where he first took root, and it feels like a major contribution to that field. There are images here which count as innovation while remaining firmly in the tradition of M.R. James, Blackwood and Lovecraft. Just looking at the chapter titles gives a frisson like the ones I used to get looking at titles in an Arkham House catalog. And while it builds with Campbell's signature sense of dread imbued in every phrase, the finale is fantastically literal. One of his very best, and that is saying a lot.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
American professor Dr. Lennox Price moves his family to Goodmanswood, England to study the dark legends surrounding the area especially the delusions of the nearby residents. However, instead of debunking the myths, Lennox is soon sucked into his work as a converted true believer. Thus he is committed, but quickly develops a cult following among the asylum's crazier folks.
His daughter archivist Heather follows up on her father's enigmatic beliefs about Goodmanswood that links them to the alchemist Nathaniel Selcouth, who resided there. Heather digs into the works of Nathaniel, who apparently was trying to fashion a messenger who would serve as his servant in seeking the outer limits of the spiritual and physical universe. Meanwhile, children insist a grotesque "sticky man" resides in the woods. Heather wonders if he exists and if he does is he the evil behind all the malevolence destroying the Price family?
THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS is a classic horror tale that works because of the set up by Ramsey Campbell is at its best here. The Price family are intelligent nice people who are being overwhelmed by a sinister darkness that grows ever menacing with each new page. The story line is taut as readers will feel the creepiness of the woods that transforms into something immoral and dangerous. Mr. Campbell is at his best with this superb horror thriller.
Harriet Klausner
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