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Ancient Images Mass Market Paperback – June 15, 1990

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British horror writer Campbell here focuses on one of his most intriguing inventions, a horror film supposedly starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, made in England in 1938 and immediately suppressed. When film editor Sandy Allen decides to track down a print of the film, her detective work leads her to Redfield, a rural community known for the delicious wheat that grows on its rich soil, fertilized by blood from an ancient massacre and, it turns out, in need of a fresh infusion every 50 years to maintain its fecundity. During her search, Sandy is shadowed by bizarre creatures that sometimes look like dogs and sometimes like scarecrows. After Sandy finally pins down the connection between the film and Redfield, the creatures come out of the shadows and reveal themselves. Campbell's novels tend to be dense and less accessible than his short stories, but this narrative seems more relaxed and simplified--perhaps his most readable effort since his debut in The Doll Who Ate His Mother.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A colleague's violent death and its apparent cause--a stolen copy of an old, never-released Karloff/Lugosi film--set film editor Sandy Allan on the trail of the film's origins and history. Mystery surrounds the movie, and as Sandy learns of the tragedies which haunted its production, she finds herself threatened by an ancient force protecting secrets deeper than the suppression of a 50-year-old movie. Interestingly, in this novel centered on a horror movie supposedly judged too disturbing to be shown in theaters, author Campbell makes it clear that his own view of the genre does not include the splatter films and paperbacks of the 1980s horror market. His brand of fear derives from atmosphere, suggestion, and his trademark fever-dream world, where litter scuttles across deserted sidewalks and toadstools gleam like eyes. Campbell is renowned among fans and writers alike as the master of a skewed and exquisitely terrifying style, and this latest novel will only add to his reputation.
- A.M.B. Amantia, Population Crisis Committee Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (June 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812502639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812502633
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,002,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ancient Images is a wonderful horror novel, more than making up for a few plot flaws with an incredible atmosphere which slowly pulls you further and further into the story. The novel offers a terrific "hook" that many horror aficionados such as myself are almost powerless to resist: the search for a lost, almost mythical horror movie starring both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The film, Tower of Fear, has never been seen, and the rumors surrounding its filming speak of strange happenings and almost ghostly events which supposedly frightened many of the crew and cast so badly that no one even cared that the final product essentially disappeared from the face of the earth before anyone could see it. Now, however, one professional movie buff (Graham) has found a copy after years of searching for it. He invites his friend, film editor Sandy Allan, to see its unveiling at his apartment, but when Sandy arrives, the film is gone. She is then horrified to see her friend jump from the roof of the adjacent building and plunge to his death. When a pompous film critic derides her late friend's quest for a movie that he says never existed, Sandy sets herself the task of finding the movie and vindicating her friend's claims. All she has to go on is a list of contacts Graham made in his search, consisting mainly of men who worked on the film in some capacity. She travels all over the countryside trying to speak to these contacts, finding herself rebuffed by some but increasingly finding more and more evidence of the fear that still haunts the minds of the cast and crew 50 years after the film was made.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
With a remarkable body of work spanning the last 30 or so years, Ramsey Campbell has distinguished himself as one of the greatest horror writers of the 20th century. His is a rare distinctive voice in modern horror fiction, one that has consistently lived up to the dauntingly high standards of horror storytelling set by accepted masters of the field such as M.R. James, while remaining as cutting edge and relevant as any of his contemporaries�.
ANCIENT IMAGES, a typically excellent horror novel from Campbell, further reinforces this perspective on his career. The story, abetted by Campbell�s ever-vivid and suggestive prose, echoes the form and content of the classic Jamesian ghost story. We are presented first with an intriguing & quite plausible mystery in the form of an old horror film that apparently disappeared from the public eye shortly after release. Things take a deeply sinister turn when the mystery is linked to a remote, rural English village and its generations-old secrets. As the mystery unravels, the supernatural dread begins to mount, for there are hideous things lurking in the shadows or waiting, standing eerily still in distant fields (hence the resemblance to scarecrows), that will strike swiftly and kill mercilessly to protect those secrets.
Apart from certain elements I felt the plot would have been stronger without (specifically, the �feral� travellers, whose role in the book was never quite convincing), this is, in my view, a virtually flawless horror novel. Perfectly structured, deliberately paced, chillingly atmospheric, mysterious, frightening�but never sacrificing credibility for a quick, cheap shock. And all wrapped up with one of Campbell�s wonderful, darkly ironic stings at the end of the tale. Vital modern horror reading.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
ANCIENT IMAGES IS A brilliantly creepy novel that fully lives up the claustrophobic terror of Campbell's short fiction. Campbells' ability to create a scene of terror in broad daylight is unparalelled. I would certainly recommend this book highly to readers of intelligent, cerebral horror.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This particular novel is an excellent example of Campbell's ability to be almost uncannily aware of his reader and their thought process. It really catches you off guard and creates quite a lovely effect in this piece. Combined with Campbell's on-point writing and a solid story, it makes this book a clear must-read, especially if you're already a fan if this author. The punctuation and formatting aren't great, but it wasn't enough to turn me off the book entirely, nor do I think it will bother most readers.

The writing is good, as is true almost always with Campbell, though his usage of "cried" as a speaking verb in dialogue tags is often noticeably awkward, but I think that's just the editor in me talking. It's distracting to an editor, but I don't think casual readers will necessarily notice that particular idiosyncrasy. It's not wrong, per se, just awkward. There were a few little things like that that irked me throughout the novel, but none that really deserve attention in a review. Story-wise, I only found one particular issue to be problematic. After seeing a thin man/dog/scarecrow-thing shadow darting just out of sight for the fiftieth time, surely the characters would be suspicious, especially given all they've learned, but they're still mentioning creepy, thin, dog-like shadows darting around in a casual manner by the 90% mark, which was more than a little annoying while reading. It was done to the point where I was rolling my eyes at every (frequent) instance. It felt very artificial. There also seem to be some changes from the original edition that the writer forgot about when he wrote the afterword.
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