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The Darkest Part of the Woods

3.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  479 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
For decades the lives of the Price family have been snarled with the fate of the ancient forest of Goodmanswood. There, Dr. Lennox Price discovered an hallucinogenic moss which quickly became the focus of a cult. Though the moss is long gone, the whole forest can now affect the minds of visitors.

After Lennox is killed trying to return to his beloved wood, his widow sees a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published April 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,218)
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Nov 29, 2012 Lynette rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2009 Morganlise rated it it was amazing
This is probably a hard book to like, judging from the previously posted reviews. I quite enjoyed it, but I have almost infinite patience for even the slowest-moving books. And it's certainly slow at the start. The action doesn't really start until you're about a third of the way in, and even then, it then takes more time to build upon that.

I did really enjoy this one though, for several reasons. First of all, the writing was surprisingly good. It took me a few chapters to get used to the author

If you've ever seen The Ruins, (Carter Smith, 2008), or The Descent, (Neil Marshall, 2005). It might help to understand what is going on in this book, even if I think the plot in this book is on its own.

Who could forget Sam and Sylvee? I think the thought still lingers in my mind of how the two form a union. The Darkest Part of the WOODS is what is incubating inside them. In Sam, we find some of C. Dexter. W., Lennox, too. I felt these characters reminded me of ... or gave Brichester a
Oct 19, 2013 Sean rated it did not like it
Shelves: horror, lovecraftian
A terribly slow driven, painfully plodding story that only takes a slightly interesting shape more than two thirds into the novel.

If you like slowly paced and atmospheric reads then you may like this a lot better than I. I am more of a fast-paced reading kind of a guy. I don't need a hundred or two pages describing trees to set the background scenery up.

I've read only one other book by Ramsey Campbell and liked it, Far Away & Never, but that was just some loosely tied together fantasy short
Matt Garcia
Oct 14, 2013 Matt Garcia rated it liked it
This book was my introduction to Ramsey Campbell. He certainly knows how to create suspense and invoke the illusion of impending dread into the mind of the reader. This novel was a little above average for me. It wasn't great but not bad at all. It is a very verbose piece of fiction and Campbell definitely will have your head spinning after what seems like the millionth description of the woods. I found the characters to each have their own inner demons and Campbell does do an adequate job of ma ...more
Mike Lester
Jun 25, 2011 Mike Lester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of Campbell's best (certainly his best of the recent period.) This one concerns a dark presence within a wood and how it affects the lives of a family living at its outskirts. Lots of effective imagery. Excellent evocation of Machen and Blackwood without lapsing into pastiche. That's all I'm gonna say. Read it, damn you.
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
First off, I thought it was okay. My objection to the story was the author constantly reminding the reader about trees, woods, forests, bugs...not just when appropriate, but even down to smells in the library where the character Heather worked. I'm thinking...way too much description, way too much setting...let's move along and get to the story! But I stuck with it and when isolated from the overabundance of tree description, the story wasn't so bad. One other thing...if you're a Lovecraft reade ...more
Jul 23, 2009 Bogart rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Unquestionably Britain's finest purveyor of scares and horror, Ramsey Campbell here delivers what I think is his masterpiece. Rarely making explicit the horrors that stalk a family unlucky to live near the outskirts of a most unwelcoming wood, Campbell builds up a fine sense of creeping unease as things lurk always at the edge of vision or just out of sight. His prose is wonderful, his use of similes as ever is utterly unique, and his characters are sympathetic and well-drawn. The wood of the ti ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very dark, atmospheric fantasy. If you like Robert Holdstock's stuff, you may enjoy this -- it explores some of the same themes. Basically, there's this small English wood called Goodmanswood where strange, supernatural things have always happened. The protagonist's father apparently traced these "supernatural" happenings to a kind of hallucinogenic lichen, only to apparently fall prey to the madness it causes. Now Heather (the protagonist) is beginning to suspect that her son, sister, and mot ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
This book worked for me in starts and stops. I enjoyed the characters at times, but they felt inconsistent. Some chapters felt separate from the story completely. The book comes the conclusion I saw developing halfway through it. I must admit I came into this book with the understanding that Campbell is of the Lovecraft ilk, and he most certainly is. The overarching plot resembles, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," which is one of Lovecraft's finest. It's about an ancient black magician who is ...more
Ross Smeltzer
Aug 09, 2015 Ross Smeltzer rated it liked it
I was introduced to Campbell's fiction by his novel The Darkest Part of the Woods, a creeping, lugubrious work that, initially at least, uses Machen-esque literary techniques to evoke an atmosphere of omnipresent menace and disquiet. While the novel begins strongly, with fine, well-rendered descriptions and tantalizing introductions to a leafy and deceptively-tranquil English suburb, Campbell's novel gradually loses the goodwill it accrues in its moody early chapters. The very ubiquity of the wo ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Thee_ron_clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-horror
Ramsey Campbell produces a great story that spans centuries and crosses into science, historical events, and horror in the story of a family infected by some odd substance found in an old forest. As the family members continue to find themselves drawn to the same area over and over, the mystery unfolds and the terror begins.

This is definitely a good read with a very creative and interesting storyline.
May 27, 2015 Alejandro rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
While Campbell did a damn fine job suffusing the text with both relatable, quotidian fears (shameful secrets, familial tensions, etc.) and an overwhelming sense of cosmic dread, I wasn't really attached to any of the characters. They were all a bit gray and sketchily detailed, despite what seemed to be a healthy helping of interiority for each main character. For me, Campbell's best work comes from the brief glimpses of dark and terrible things that he injects into his short fiction; in a novel ...more
Oct 09, 2014 Fatman rated it liked it
Ramsey Campbell is possibly one of the finest horror writers around, certainly the best prosaist of the lot. In a genre where style, character development and elegance of expression are all too often sacrificed in favor of flowing action and a fast-paced plot, his masterful writing is unique and refreshing.

That said, a good novel requires a careful balance of both pacing and literary style. In The Darkest Part of the Woods, Campbell has allowed the latter to completely suffocate the former. The
John Cook
Dec 29, 2010 John Cook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
This is a really creepy book that is light on action but heavy on atmosphere. However, it does pick up towards the end. Campell's engrossing plot and disturbing imagery combine for an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend this book.
Feb 22, 2009 Scott rated it did not like it
Shelves: spooks
I trudged through this.....this was the most uneventful ghost/legend/horror novel I have ever read. Some of the "mysteries" lore was captivating but the characters had little personality other than being a family.
Dennis Gerwing
Dec 17, 2013 Dennis Gerwing rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious and repetitive.
Feb 18, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
An atmospheric, creepy, creeping tale. It starts very slowly with every little thing described in detail. This was a little annoying but served to set the tone for the book. In a horror novel the imagery is important to me and there was so much imagery in this story that I loved - the twiggy man, the dark rooms, the bones, the woods. Some scenes seemed unnecessary, such as those set in the library, but other scenes were perfect in their weirdness and confusion. If you like fast paced action this ...more
Feb 06, 2010 Woowott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now, I love me a good slow, wordy book. I'm thoroughly enjoying Moby Dick, and I loved The Terror. And I had a hard time debating on a rating for this book. But I had to go with two stars, even though I didn't hate it. It was all right. But the creepy description is basically a one-trick pony. By which I mean that, at least in this novel, Campbell builds suspense by using the same descriptors for the same things numerous times, and he makes phrases and clauses needlessly awkward and difficult to ...more
Paul S
Oct 28, 2012 Paul S rated it liked it
Ramsey Campbell is an acquired taste and not the most accessible of authors. The Darkest Part of the Woods is one of the easiest entry points into his voluminous catalog. Echoes of Lovecraft and The Blair Witch Project lurk in the background of the tale of the Price family, who are just a little bit too close to the woods that surround them.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Campbell's work is the sheer unpleasantness and remoteness of his characters. While that is still an issue here to som
Brian Hastings
Jun 20, 2015 Brian Hastings rated it it was amazing
This is a good example of Campbell's ability to choose words describing his monsters that are both vague and unnervingly insinuative. This combination is akin to seeing only yellow eyes in the dark, yet hearing well the sickening slimy-squishy sound of it moving around. Your mind tries to fill in the blanks (you hear the slimy movement, but no footsteps, etc.).
Apr 19, 2013 Holly rated it liked it
Shelves: good-scares
A novel on one of my favorite horror themes: When Nature Behaves Unnaturally. This one was a pretty good one.

Campbell builds a sense of unease paired up with ambiguity that amps up almost, but not quite, to the point of dread.

I don't think it would be a spoiler to say that everything he foreshadows does come to pass. Of course we should be concerned about the baby.....Campbell is practically yelling it to us.

A great autumnal read. I recommended it to a friend, she took a look at it and declined
Mitch S
Oct 24, 2014 Mitch S rated it liked it
A unessecarily hard read with a low pay off.

The great part of this book is the unique imagery used in the authors metaphors (sometimes). Most of the time things are Forest related comparisons. This starts out funny then becomes predictable and stale. Oh the crunch of the teebag sounded like stepping on fall leaves? the ladies thin arms reminded him of a neglected sapling? and many more.

My biggest problem was the dialogue. I thought it must be a translation error or something. When the ~8 charact
Jun 20, 2016 Hannah added it
Well I think this one is going to have to end as a did not finish. This book was my first foray into the horror genre, but I just couldn't get into it. I got about halfway through and decided to stop struggling and pick up something else
Darren Willis
Jun 12, 2013 Darren Willis rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting through this book. I know this guy was an influence on Stephen King so I wanted to check it out. It wasn't a bad book. In fact, I found it very impressive in many ways, and it gave me the creeps a few times. I admire it as a work of art. But Campbell's style is so subtle and so, perhaps, British? -- It just felt like the whole book was leading up to something that never happened. It's like the whole story was setup, but with no payoff. Maybe I'm just too American, maybe ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Any book that mentions Aleister Crowley has got me in its pocket. Campbell knows how to ratchet up the tension, and his descriptions of the menacing presence that lurks just beyond the edge of vision are designed to keep you up at night. That said, I slept rather peacefully...the menace wasn't all that frightening. The horrific things he DOES show us fully ARE just that...horrific. Grotesque. My biggest criticism of this book is that it doesn't spend any time with the original discovery of the h ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Jim rated it it was ok
It's sad because there's actually a really good 100-page Lovecraftian pastiche buried in here. Half the story of Charles Dexter Ward in almost three times the length: not a good ratio.
Beth Barefoot
May 31, 2012 Beth Barefoot rated it liked it
As much as I love Ramsey Campbell, I did not love this book. I felt this would have made a great novella. The characters were flat with the exception of Sam, the dialogue was hard to follow and the motifs beat you over the head. (the hands of a clock are like twigs? really?)The interesting aspects of the book - The myths, Selcouth's Journal and the mysterious twig man and his relationship to the patriarch - were the overshadowed by the flat and prim family dynamics. Sigh...back to the Ramsey Cam ...more
Rowan MacBean
Jul 11, 2010 Rowan MacBean rated it it was ok
The plot was ... okay. I live in an extremely rural area and my house is surrounded by woods, and I did most of my reading in the fading daylight hours, so I was effectively creeped the hell out. At one point, I was sitting near a window with frosted glass and a shadow passed it, causing me, quite frankly -- and pardon my French -- to nearly shit myself.

However, there were no characters that I liked, identified with, or remotely cared about, so it didn't matter very much that the book had an int
Nov 18, 2011 Tina rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-books-read
I loved the book at first. The tone was very much like Lovecraft and I even started dreaming about the book. However, it just dragged on and on. The characters were stiff and awkward and they made me uncomfortable. In a book such as this one, that could have been a design decision by the author, however, I'm not sure it was.

Overall, I enjoyed the horror aspects, but all the characters (except Lennox, the father) were contemptible and the written was long-winded.
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Literary Horror: The Darkest Part of the Woods 40 46 Oct 19, 2013 08:42PM  
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John Ramsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that "Campbell reigns supreme in the field today," while S. T. Joshi has said that "future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood."
More about Ramsey Campbell...

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