- File Size: 1913 KB
- Print Length: 369 pages
- Publisher: Venture Press (March 12, 2017)
- Publication Date: March 12, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B06XKFRC5Z
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,344 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Parasite Kindle Edition
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So I was anxious to read more of Campbell, so I finally got my hands on a copy of THE PARASITE. And I was not disappointed. Campbell still writes that cool, icy prose line that was so distinctive in THE DOLL, but he takes even more chances with this book. I won't say it's better than his first novel, but it's different. In much the same way as King's first three novels, all great, were all quite different from the other two.
Using real-life horrors from the past in horror fiction is always a risky business. In this case the horror in question is the Holocaust, barely thirty years in the past when the book was written, and Campbell uses it in a particularly nasty and frightening way.
(I should note that by nasty I do not mean offensive; I don't think anyone will find what he's done here insulting or degrading.)
Risky as it is, the use of Nazi Germany by writers of horror fantasy is a fairly common practice; even writers as notable as Kurt Vonnegut and Ira Levin have prospected in that mine. Most of the books are perfectly dreadful, of course, but when a Vonnegut, a Levin, or a Campbell gets hold of this material, hold on; you are in for a fearsome ride.
Describing the plot is difficult because it is so minimal: the central character is Rose Tierney, a writer, with her husband Bill, of books about the cinema, and they are both also lecturers at the University. Bill's a major character in the novel, and there are about four or five others who are significant, but this is really Rose's story in much the same way as THE EXORCIST: the title suggests the central character is the priest, but it is actually the possessed girl and her desperate mother who are the center of attention.
In brief: As a young girl of about ten, Rose is dragged by some older friends to a makeshift "seance" in an upper room of an abandoned building. Something happens to her there, but we are not told exactly what.
Fast forward twenty years. Rose is happily married and happy in her job; her only regret is that she is infertile. Then she meets Diane, a woman whose interest in the occult begins to jog certain strange memories in Rose that she was not even aware she had. Her happiness is about to be shaken to its core.
The rest of the book is Rose's odyssey to first find out what is happening to her and then to try to do something about it. I can't say any more without spoiling it, but it's a page-turner par excellence; even when not much is happening I found myself glued to the story waiting for the next revelation.
I see some reviewers have said that the book is too long for the story; the suggestion has been put forward that this is actually short story material bulked up to novel length. I do not agree: at 337 pages in paperback, the book is hardly all that long, and it's the "in between" stuff, the parts that some may regard as "filler," where some of the real shudders are to be found, as we learn things about Rose before she even has a clue.
The more Campbell I read, the more I like him. And it's impossible to compare him to anyone else, such as King or Koontz or his countryman James Herbert. Campbell's writings are unique; he goes places most writers would not and his narrative voice is unique in the history of literature of any genre.
First class. A must read.
In a way, this novel is one of self-discovery, with a grown up Rose finding her seemingly placid life as a teacher and writer drawn unstoppably toward matters of an occult nature. Her terrifyingly new out-of-body experiences come in time, with study and practice, to empower her, and she begins to feel strengthened in some way by the unnatural talents she reluctantly admits to possessing. Then her world falls apart before her eyes, and she realizes that her new powers were never really hers to begin with but instead belong to the parasite that has lived within her own mind undetected for twenty years. Some part of her inner strength saves her from a total breakdown, but the mad scramble of the final major section of the book proves an increasingly unnerving experience for the reader seeing the world through her eyes. Even the ending is not really the ending, but that is only to be expected from a man of such insidious talents as Ramsey Campbell. While far from his most exciting novel, The Parasite more than satisfies the seeker of psychological horror who stays with it until the end.