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Alone With the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction, 1961-1991

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,171 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Ramsey Campbell is perhaps the world's most decorated author of horror fiction. He has won four World Fantasy Awards, ten British Fantasy Awards, three Bram Stoker Awards, and the Horror Writers' Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Three decades into his career, Campbell paused to review his body of short fiction and selected the stories that were, to his mind, the
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Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Tor Books (first published 1993)
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 ·  1,171 ratings  ·  57 reviews


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J.G. Keely
Style is a curious thing in writing: the words we use, the tone of our voice, the images we create, the themes we love to explore. Every author has their own style, even though some don't realize it--indeed, it is those writers who are least aware of their style who will be dominated by its little vicissitudes.

We spend our whole careers cultivating our style, improving it--and yet, style is also a crutch, a limitation. As Bruce Lee observed: the best style is no style at all--to be able to move
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Bandit
May 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I really wanted to like. Up to now I've had very mixed experiences with Campbell's work. I really liked Ancient Images, although more so for the subject matter than the execution. Overnight and Secret Story were just ok, never great, and the short stories of his that I read varied in quality. With this volume I think maybe now I have read enough Campbell to make up my mind. This volume was for the most part an excruciatingly tedious read. Great Short Fiction...I don't think so. ...more
Andy
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not every story here is a masterpiece, but a few are, and there's enough good ones to make this one of the better horror story collections I've read.

I love Campbell's style, he's one of the few writers who still occasionally creeps me out. Some of these are really viscerally unsettling, like "The Brood" or "The Interloper" for example. Others like "The End of a Summer's Day" lingered in my mind and only hit me a little later while I was lying in bed, and kept me up for some time after.
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Lauren
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, short-stories
I feel somewhat redundant reviewing Ramsey Campbell. The horror field has spoken: he’s a genius, especially in his short fiction, and he excels at mixing creeping dread with the mundane. I even knew this already, since I’d read a smattering of his short stories and a handful of novels, but since I didn’t get the full effect before reading Alone with the Horrors (a thoughtful early All Hallow’s Read gift from my sister), I’ll risk a full, if obvious, review.

Firstly, this is a genuinely excellent
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Marvin
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This definitive collection deserves at least three stars for it extensive retrospective of 30 years of Ramsey Campbell's short fiction. It collects 35 of his best including all of an earlier anthology titled Dark Feasts. It is the perfect collection to discover and assess Campbell's literary output.

But that's not an easy thing to do. While Campbell can be a eerie but effective writer, he is also a bit frustrating. At his best, he can evoke a form of urban unease. He may be one of the first
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Kevin Lucia
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So this, of course, was absolutely fantastic. I discovered Ramsey Campbell around the same time as T. M. Wright, Charles Grant and Al Sarrantonio, and it's not hyperbole to say these writers shaped and molded me and re-mapped my brain when it came to writing horror. What's so powerful about Ramsey's work is the subtle dread it inspires, and how achingly human his protagonists - and victims - are. Even in the stories featuring supernatural phenomena, the protagonists often fall victim to their ...more
Alex
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you’re looking for a “Best of Ramsey Campbell” this should satisfy that need showing Campbell’s mastery of the short form across several decades. “Cold Print” is an absolute delight. The book is effective and the monster is gruesome. This was “reprinted” by PseudoPod as episode 525. “Again” relentlessly cranks the uncomfortable tension blending attraction and revulsion, pleasure and pain. This was also reprinted by PseudoPod. Those stories are excellent samples of what to expect in this ...more
Jim Smith
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Campbell is an amazing writer of short horror tales, and many of his finest tales are included here –my favourite being the unforgettable 'The End of a Summer's Day' from his masterful Demons by Daylight book.
Jeremy
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Only five stories really pierced me out of the thirty-seven(!) included here: "Mackintosh Willy", "The Tower from Yuggoth", "The Man in the Underpass", "Again", and "Apples". Those fiendish stories are worthy of a "Great" story collection.
Shane
I'm not putting this on hiatus(turns out I lied and have put it on my hiatus pile anyway), even though I've only got half way through, for the simple reason it'll be there forever. I've a tendency to do that with anthologies and collections. I'll read a few stories then put it to one side for years, and I'll happily do this with anthology after anthology and collection after collection until it comes full circle and I pick up one I put down years earlier, whereupon I'll proceed to read a few ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ramsey Campbell is one of my favorite horror writers, because, for the most part, he writes horror that is cerebral -- much like Lovecraft, this man has the ability to set the scene and build up the feelings of horror in the pit of your stomach, then leave it all to the reader to figure out what's just happened or is going to happen next. I bought this one because of the Lovecraft influence on some of Campbell's stories and was not at all disappointed. However, beyond Lovecraft's influence, ...more
Alessandro
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: gothic-or-horror
Horror fiction works when it manages to provoke an emotional response. Something needs to jump out of the pages and affect the reader emotionally in some way. That's all. Horror fiction don't need elaborate conclusions or morals. These tales don't need elaborate characters or context. It succeeds when it evokes an atmosphere of dread.

Ramsey Campbell's Alone with the Horrors compiles some horror short fictions of the aforementioned author. It doesn't pretend to collect his best works but to
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Emma Audsley
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite anthologies within the horror genre. Recommended highly to fans of horror, suspense & terror!
Christian
Took me a while to finish this excellent short fiction collection. Some really good stories are contained within. This having been my first foray into Ramsey's short work, I found I actually prefer his longer fiction judging from the small handful of utterly fantastic novels of his I've read.
T.A.
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been reading this over the course of the year, sometimes two or three stories at a time. Sometimes there'd be a good four weeks between reading. Considering this collection spans Campbell's career from his early work until 1991, I thought taking some time to digest it would be a good move. There's some substantial changes alongside themes which span the covers. The majority of the stories pay their way, offering a kind of chill that is characteristic of Campbell's writing.

Ramsey Campbell
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Martin Mcgoey
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
This book was one of the longest, most tedious reads I've encountered in quite some time. It was certainly one of the worst collections of short stories I've ever read. Really it's only saving grace is that Campbell seems to have come up with an effective formula for his fiction: a guy with a sketchy and mysterious past finds himself becoming increasingly isolated throughout the story and encounters terror along the way before facing a disturbing realization. Obviously Campbell's a huge fan of ...more
DeAnna Knippling
An amazing view of thirty years of short stories, and watching Mr. Ramsey's style and skills develop. I think, however, if you're looking for the monster that jumps out at you and says, "Boo!" this is not the collection for you. Almost every story is driven by the reader's slow realization of what's going on, on a fictional level, and what the author's really talking about--which means that some stories you're left with questions, and other stories feel a little flat, depending on whether you ...more
Dan Kelly
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Campbell is certainly one of the best horror writers out there, though I think I would have been more impressed by his prose when I was younger. I'm not sure why I never read him before. Stephen King's praise in Danse Macabre tip the scale for me. The earlier stuff is all right, if thin; and being heir to Lovecraft doesn't seem like such a high offic these days. Still, the stories toward the end of the book are gripping and genuinely creeptastic. "Again" made me say "Yeaggh!" out loud on the ...more
Mike Driver
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection that captures the cream of his short stories, from his early 1960's Lovecraftian efforts right through the dystopian territory he made his own around the streets and urban wastelands of Liverpool. My personal favourites include; The Guy, In The Bag, the Chimney and Mackintosh Willy, but you could pretty much choose anything here and be satisfied with what you get.

No one shows the bleak streets of Britain with all their pathos, humour and deep seated fears any better than
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Gary
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Superb. A definitive collection from the best horror writer the world has ever seen.
Chris
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: horror fans, especially Lovecraft
Some seriously scary short stories in here, folks. Not the kind of thing you want to be reading right before bed.
David Stephens
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
If you're looking to trace the trajectory of Ramsey Campbell's career, you might enjoy this collection. It contains thirty seven short stories that he wrote over three decades. The first third or so show his indebtedness to Lovecraft. In fact, the opening story imitates one of Lovecraft's tales so thoroughly, Campbell might as well have just slapped his name on one of Lovecraft's writings; though, perhaps this can be forgiven seeing as how Campbell was only fifteen when the story was first ...more
Richard Schaefer
Truly great stories from an excellent writer. Many are genuinely creepy and most are exceptionally written. Campbell is a caliber of writer that transcends the horror genre (though all of these stories are horror, wonderfully so); you can read his stories to learn about short story craft in any genre.
You will see recurring themes and archetypes (characters lost in endless hallways or shadowy alleys, locked in houses or lost in the woods; main characters who are writers, mean spirited teachers,
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Matthew S
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I had heard many good things about Ramsey Campbell as an author and decided to check this book out.
Stories like "The End of a Summers Day" "The Brood" and "Mackintosh Willy" succeed in creating a strong unnerving atmosphere and images that stick with you after the story is over.
I also like the introduction by the author. It shows a great sense of humor and self awareness that made me chuckle a little, especially when Campbell was critiquing his earlier stories.
The problem is that many of the
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Richard
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Rating a short story collection is always a little fraught, as I really liked some stories (Mackintosh Willy) and others left me underwhelmed (Cold Print). Also, several of the stories are variations on the same trick of pacing into a horrifying swerve. Like any time you see the same trick done a dozen different ways, sometimes you'll see the sleight.

Don't mistake me though, this is a highly enjoyable collection of creepy tales, and, taken in bits, allows the reader to wallow a bit in
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Christopher
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Being a rather large survey of independent short stories from Campbell's career, its a bit of a mixed bag. All of them build atmosphere and setting perfectly and absorbingly. Quite a few of them, however, do nothing else and so the build is kind of for nothing. The stories that are fully fleshed out though are truly masterfully crafted. The most notable of which come to mind as:

Cold Print, The Man in the Underpass, Call First, Baby, The Chimney, The Brood, The Voice of the Beach, The Hands,
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Simon
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A rich assortment of short horrors, some successfully terrifying, some average. It's tough to pinpoint Ramsey as he dabbles in many subgenres across this book and finds success in each one. Despite feeling a bit put off by the dense prose at the beginning, I got really drawn into it as the stories went on and the writing exposed itself as Campbell's key tool. He just knows all the right words to make you feel unclean when you read about the things lurking in the dark.
Brian O'Connell
It’s not *all* amazing, and some of the earliest ones are pretty rough, but when Campbell’s good he’s great: an equal to classic ghost story writers of yore, and able to deliver a pretty powerful shudder. The sense of heart-pounding dread in some of these stories is truly remarkable. See stories like “Call First”, “The Chimney”, “Midnight Hobo”, and “Again” for effects like these. Despite some mixed entries, it’s worth the price for the good stuff (most of the book, really).
Vesperia
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: can-t-finish
I DNF'ed it at about 55%. Some stories are decent. The writing is mostly decent, but sooo boring. There is no suspense, the stories end where they should only begin, you don't care about the MCs, even though most of the time you are in their minds, since the stories are 1st person.

I usually give 1 stars to stuff I can't finish, but this wasn't horrible or even badly written, just very boring.
Nickvlad
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't get it

I enjoyed very few of these stories. Most of the protagonists were unlikeable, their responses to their situations didn't make sense, and the endings rarely finished the story. Just kind of left you trying to figure out what happened. Nothing in this volume was good enough to make me want to read it a second time.
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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."
“He slammed the door and ran blindly down the corridor, grabbing at handles. What exactly had he seen? They had been eating with their bare hands, but somehow the only thought he could hold on to was a kind of sickened gratitude that he had been unable to see their faces.” 2 likes
“Unlike the rest he had seen of the bungalow, the hall beyond the door was dark. He could see the glimmer of three doors and several framed photographs lined up along the walls. The sound of flies was louder, though they didn’t seem to be in the hall itself. Now that he was closer they sounded even more like someone groaning feebly, and the rotten smell was stronger too.” 1 likes
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