by Ramsey Campbell
Category: Fiction / Horror
400 pages; ISBN: 0765312999
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Tor, Apr 2005, $24.95, 400 pp.
American based Texts Bookstores opened up a superstore in Fenny Meadows Retail Park in northern England. However, the store has failed to live up to expectations. Yank Woody Blake, who has successfully turned around stores in New Orleans and Minneapolis, is sent to fix the English shop built on the fens.
During closing hours, books jump from shelves even landing in the discard pile and the fen reclaims the store every night leaving inventory wet, oily and yucky. With the suits arriving to inspect his progress, Woody orders an all-nighter to get the store ready. However, he and his employees learn first hand who the anti-bibliophiles are. Slimy blobs come out of the fog that has engulfed Texts Bookstore and the electricity blacks out. The outside doors are locked by some other force with no way to exit and Woody is further sealed in his office that might be his tomb as the store is sinking just like whole villages have vanished here before.
Fans of Ramsey Campbell and anyone who has worked at a bookstore will appreciate this tongue in cheek horror tale that grips the audience the moment readers grasp that this is not just another retail establishment. Woody is a fabulous protagonist who serves as the focal point holding the thriller together (someone has to – try pinning jello blobs to a wall). He and his staff portray working at a bookstore so well and his transformation from save the store ultra-energy to trapped mouse is cleverly handled as in between he sees all sorts of the nasties occur to his staff. Mindful of Poltergeist but with humor, Mr. Campbell provides a delightful tale that will ironically leap off the bookshelves.
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