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The Wanting Paperback – July 4, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As Thomas Altman, Black wrote macabre novels including Kiss Daddy Goodbye; the theme of this book is also horror. Unfortunately, the characters and incidents aren't quite credible. The setting is a prosperous tourist town in northern California. The death of six children since 1899 is a secret guarded by the leading citizens, who discourage questions about the tragedies from young Sheriff Metger. He had seen the most recent victim of progeriapremature agingand suspects the rare disease as the covered-up cause of the earlier deaths. Readers are aware that the elderly couple named Summers, at home in the woods outside town, have been rejuvenating themselves by absorbing the children's vital forces. When Max Untermeyer and his wife Louise arrive with their son Dennis, 12, it's obvious that the old demons welcome their new neighbors. The Untermeyers' plans for a peaceful vacation from the city becomes a nightmare, ending with a bloody confrontation between Louise and the Summers. Metger has learned the truth but not in time and Dennis seems doomed. The sprawling narrative suggests that a firm editorial hand would have made a better story. 25,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/promo. (July 28pMAUD GONE Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence. Atheneum, $16.95 ISBN 0-689-11643-8 THE BARTHOLOMEW FAIR MUR
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Every 20 years or so, in an isolated California town that caters to the tourist trade, a child suddenly sickens and dies horrifyingly in a matter of weeks. The town's sheriff attempts to determine the cause before the malady strikes the son of a vacationing couple too involved in their marital problems to attend to their offspring. Black's novel is disappointing, simply because after maintaining a deliciously leisurely and suspenseful pace through four-fifths of the book he suddenly changes speed and races to an abrupt and unsatisfactory conclusion. Other major flaws are a superfluous main character and some plot elements that are too improbable even for an occult novel. Otherwise, this is a well-written and well-plotted concoction vaguely reminiscent of Brooks Standwood's The Glow ( LJ 9/1/79). For popular fiction collections. Eric W. Johnson, Univ. of Bridgeport Lib., Ct.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mandarin (July 4, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749309202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749309206
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,377,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A husband and wife retreat with their young son to a house in the woods in order to escape their hectic professional life in San Francisco for a summer. All the elements of a perfect thriller are here - remoteness, a small town with a secret, threats from town officials, a growing rift in the main characters' marriage, a strangely superannuated (no, I didn't say "supernatural," but perhaps could have) couple also living in the woods.

Is this going to be a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel? We might begin to think that's where this story is headed as we read how the son in the family is strangely drawn to the old couple's dilapidated house a little distance away from his parents' rental in the forest. But no, some less obviously sinister plot is afoot here.

The story is told, not so much in chapters, as in slices. Each slice focuses on the growing dilemma of one of the characters. We see the situation of mother, father, sheriff, handyman, each in turn getting more precarious. Campbell Black skillfully steps us from one jagged, slippery stone in the stream to the next. We're thrown off balance, but never quite lose our footing. We both seek the safety of solid ground on the other side - and dread what we'll find there.

This is a literate, gripping story. I think this book will encourage you to search out all of Campbell Black's suspense books (some written under the aliases of "Campbell Armstrong" and "Thomas Altman").

When you've read those, I suggest you go on to the works of a different Campbell - Ramsey Campbell, starting perhaps with "Midnight Sun," another tale of gathering danger in the woods. Ramsey Campbell doesn't always etch individual characters as well as Campbell Black does, but he also weaves from a literary, fateful skein, and is a master of ominous atmospherics. With the books of these these two geniuses of the genre headed your way, you'll be singing, "The Campbells are Coming - Hurrah! - Hurrah!"
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Format: Paperback
Well, it might seem a bit strange for me to be writing a review of a book published 20 years ago, but if I'm like other Amazon visitors, I like to have at least one reader review to go by, even if the book is quite old.

The industry reviews included with this book listing are fairly accurate--the old couple in the woods aren't what they appear to be, kids die of a mysterious ailment while the old folks seem to grow younger and stronger, and the main husband and wife in the story are having marital problems. However, the industry's despair over a "poorly crafted" horror novel is far from fair.

I personally found this novel to be gripping, and for all facets of the story to be interesting and part of the overall "big picture" of the book. Some of the characters featured prominently don't end up doing much by the end of the book, but they're far from superfluous--every character plays a role in this complicated but satisfying novel.

As for bits and pieces of the book being "too far-fetched" even for an "occult novel," I'd have to disagree there, as well. Some of the best-known horror fiction is based on premises that could never possibly be true, but the authors of those novels wrote in such a way that it was easy for us to picture something so improbable happening right in our own little towns.

All in all, a good effort by Black--this being the first novel of his I've ever read, I look forward to digging into another book of his that I own, Letters from the Dead.
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By Tami Brandt on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Something is very wrong in the state of California. Carnarvon is a seemingly peaceful little town, a renowned tourist attraction outside of San Francisco, known for the beauty of its serene forests. But a dark secret haunts the inhabitants: Every few years a healthy child takes ill with a strange, horrifying disease for which modern medicine can find no cure. Every few years . . .

Louise and Max Untermeyer are ready for a sabbatical in the country -- Louise is a successful children's illustrator; Max is a doctor with more than a few secrets -- so they pack their bags and leave San Francisco for Carnarvon. Their young son Dennis, they are sure, will enjoy the beautiful green countryside.

Soon after the Untermeyers arrive at their rustic country house, the troubles begin. Why is their son starting to drift away from them? Is it because of his growing friendship with Frog, an amiable hippie living in a nearby trailer? Or is it his involvement with the Summers, a gracious elderly couple who have taken a fancy to him? Or is there some deeper secret hidden in the majestic pines? As their child becomes more and more of a stranger, as the rural peace is invaded by an eerie sense of danger and foreboding, Louise must fight to keep her own sanity -- and to save her son's life.

THE WANTING is the novel readers have been waiting for from one of today's most exciting and accomplished writers of suspense fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
...from the ever popular What's-Happened-To-The-Children category. Don't expect a lot of action fireworks, as this is a fairly subtle and subdued work, one that cross-hatches Marasco's BURNT OFFERINGS with any of Ira Levin's paranoid thrillers.
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