It’s been a bit more than thirty years since the events of the first book in Ramsey Campbell’s The Three Births of Daoloth series (this is the second book in the series). Dominic Sheldrake is now married and has a son of his own and he’s hoping he can finally put the incidents with Christian Noble behind him. But his son, Toby, is having nighttime seizures and nightmares, bringing back some terrifying memories.
Dominic and his wife Claudine have found a clinic that addresses the issues which Toby suffers from and it seems his symptoms are becoming more common. Are these shared visions? Is Christian Noble somehow behind this and is he taking aim at the world?
Dominic will need the help of some old friends to confront a familiar, growing evil.
Ramsey Campbell is a powerhouse in the world of horror literature but if you are looking for horror that is aggressive, slasher, or splatter, then you might be disappointed. Campbell’s horror is slow and methodical. Think Lovecraft, not King.
Campbell’s horror is based on character – on people – and Campbell really understands what makes people tick, what drives them, and what terrifies them, and then he builds on to intensify each aspect.
What works especially well here is the history. Knowing that Dominic has survived a rough youth and his experiences with the betrayal of a trusted guardian, a teacher, puts the reader on edge immediately, and Campbell plays with this, making Dominic and Claudine’s life seem somehow idyllic. But we know the kind of book we’re getting in to and we can watch the horror build up, almost painfully slowly. But that in itself builds anxiety.
I wasn’t a big fan of Christian Noble in the first book, but here it’s Noble’s daughter who has taken up her father’s mantle and she makes a great foil in the story.
I did find the book a bit slow, but overall I enjoy this ‘slow-boil’ sort of psychological horror.
Looking for a good book? Born to the Dark is the second book in a trilogy by Ramsey Campbell. It is methodical psychological horror, which definitely isn’t for everybody, but fans of the genre will want to dig in.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Born to the Dark
author: Ramsey Campbell
series: The Three Births of Daoloth #2
publisher: PS Publishing
hardcover, 287 pages