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Midnight Sun [Hardcover]

Ramsey Campbell
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 15 1991
A novel by the author of "The Claw", "The Face That Must Die", "The Nameless", "Count of Eleven", "Waking Nightmares", and "Obsession".
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

"Trees grow," wrote the dying Edward Sterling in the frozen earth of the forest in Stargrave, England, that became his burial ground. As his grandson Ben learns, in Campbell's beautifully poetic horror novel, the elder Sterling was answering a call from a primordial species of snow that devours humans. Ben becomes a conduit for the gluttony of this creeping arctic cold, slowly losing his reason with each victim that the entity claims, as he succumbs to its promise of immortality in exchange for the lives of his neighbors. This icy menace can succeed only through manipulating Ben's consciousness, and he cooperates--until it hunts his family. Campbell's ( Ancient Images ) artful use of metaphor paints a frightening portrait of a world tilting into chaos and the price that must be paid to save it. This absorbing novel again demonstrates the author's mastery of the horror genre.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA--Midnight Sun is not of the slasher, gorefest variety that passes for horror in much of the genre today. Instead, Campbell has skillfully crafted an intellectual, poetic, yet very readable thriller. Children's book writer Ben Sterling has returned to his boyhood home in the remote English country town of Stargrave. It was there that his grandfather, folklorist Edward Sterling, was found frozen to death and Ben's parents died under mysterious circumstances. Ben, now married with children, is drawn back to Stargrave by an ancient, alien lifeforce that takes possession of him as a gateway to control the world. Campbell expertly uses language to create a coiled, tense atmosphere and produce a chilling tale in the tradition of John Wyndom's Midwich Cuckoos (Ballantine, 1957; o.p.) or John Christopher's Possessors (S. & S., 1964; o.p.) A welcome addition to any horror collection.
- John Larson, Fairfax County Pub . Lib . , VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars One of Campbell's least satisfying novels May 24 2003
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
In Midnight Sun, Ramsey Campbell attempted to write a novel in the traditional, atmospheric horror style; in my opinion, he had only limited success in doing so. I have seen a couple of people place this novel alongside the best of Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, but in my opinion it falls far short of such a lofty mark. I don't think it is in any way Lovecraftian either, I should add. I've read a good many of Campbell's novels, and this is by far the most problematic of the bunch for me. The story is built around some type of preternaturally remarkable presence lurking within the forest outside Ben Sterling's childhood home, a presence that has called Ben home to unwittingly pursue its agenda of remaking the world in its own ice-cold image. The first section of the novels introduces us to Ben as a child. As an eight-year-old, he runs away from his aunt's home and makes his way to the gravesite of his family, all of whom had recently died in an automobile accident. Just before he can figure something mysterious out, he is returned to the home of his aunt, where we find him perusing the stories written by a singular ancestor of his, tales and legends brought home from the northern lands of the midnight sun. His aunt seems quite wary of the book and gets rid of it, but the stories have already planted themselves in Ben's mind. We then jump to the present, which finds Ben moving back to the Sterling home of his childhood with his wife Ellen, daughter Margaret, and son Ben. From that point on, it's one incredibly drawn-out process of watching Ben change as the mysterious forces at work in the dark forest prepare the way for the mysterious reawakening of a force older than man. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Something Frigid This Way Comes... Aug. 21 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ellen is worried about her husband, successful children's book author Ben Sterling. Ever since inheriting the family house in isolated Stargrave, his old childhood demons have been reemerging. Ben's father was crazy - he traveled to the ends of the earth researching legends of the midnight sun, and committed suicide by stripping naked in a snowy clearing - and Ellen is beginning to be afraid Ben might just be a chip off the old block.
But soon something starts scaring her worse - Ben's insistence that an eldritch god is awakening in Stargrave to reshape the planet in its image seems less a fantasy than when he and his crazy father first started spouting the idea. Stargrave is changing. It's getting colder. More isolated. The trees, the snow, the very frost itself, increasingly appears to be rearranging itself into that god's own image. Which means, perhaps, that Ben isn't a madman at all, but a genuine prophet - and if that is the case, then the end of the world is at hand...
This is one of Campbell's best, and that's saying a lot. The novel is uneven, and could have been structured better, but overall it's a steadily mounting masterpiece of menace. It's most reminiscent of Algernon Blackwood and H. P. Lovecraft, in that its horror is genuinely cosmic and never truly seen except for the effects of its presence. Dramatically, it's highly reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, in that a snowbound woman protects her children from her increasingly unstable (and quite possibly dangerous) husband, with an unseen supernatural being influencing events from the frozen shadows.
Sadly - like most of Campbell's best work - this book is out of print, but it's well worth trying to find anyway if you're a fan of well-crafted, creep-up-behind-you horror.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something Frigid This Way Comes... Aug. 21 2002
By Bruce Rux - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ellen is worried about her husband, successful children's book author Ben Sterling. Ever since inheriting the family house in isolated Stargrave, his old childhood demons have been reemerging. Ben's father was crazy - he traveled to the ends of the earth researching legends of the midnight sun, and committed suicide by stripping naked in a snowy clearing - and Ellen is beginning to be afraid Ben might just be a chip off the old block.
But soon something starts scaring her worse - Ben's insistence that an eldritch god is awakening in Stargrave to reshape the planet in its image seems less a fantasy than when he and his crazy father first started spouting the idea. Stargrave is changing. It's getting colder. More isolated. The trees, the snow, the very frost itself, increasingly appears to be rearranging itself into that god's own image. Which means, perhaps, that Ben isn't a madman at all, but a genuine prophet - and if that is the case, then the end of the world is at hand...
This is one of Campbell's best, and that's saying a lot. The novel is uneven, and could have been structured better, but overall it's a steadily mounting masterpiece of menace. It's most reminiscent of Algernon Blackwood and H. P. Lovecraft, in that its horror is genuinely cosmic and never truly seen except for the effects of its presence. Dramatically, it's highly reminiscent of Stephen King's The Shining, in that a snowbound woman protects her children from her increasingly unstable (and quite possibly dangerous) husband, with an unseen supernatural being influencing events from the frozen shadows.
Sadly - like most of Campbell's best work - this book is out of print, but it's well worth trying to find anyway if you're a fan of well-crafted, creep-up-behind-you horror.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feel the chill of the Midnight Sun March 28 2006
By Deejaytee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A creepy chilling tale of supernatural horror. Perhaps not one of Campbells best but still very good. This tale will have you bolting your doors and locking your windows- as well as turning the furnace up to ward off that evil chill in the air that this book is sure to deliver.I found that this book is a great read but does have some slow parts. Definitely worth reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good horror June 5 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Outstanding horror novel. Campbell has a gift, and, when he's on, he can write some of the most subtle, exquistely unsettling horror around. This novel is an excellent showcase for his skill. Things don't make sense in Campbell's world. Even when the beasties come out of the closet, you won't get a sense that you understand the forces at work, or that you can somehow predict what they're going to do next. This has a way of keeping you on your toes, and keeping you scared.
4.0 out of 5 stars Horror Novel Reviews: Honesty in the Terror Aug. 2 2013
By Horror Novel Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ramsey Campbell, "Britain's most respected living horror writer" (according to the Oxford Companion to English Literature), has become my new favorite horror author. His ability to tap into the undercurrents of horror that flow through the human subconscious brings the reader along with ever growing glimpses into the dark. Campbell doesn't depend on the shock value of gore, but slyly ushers us to the final depths of darkness and suddenly drops us off into the deep end.

In Midnight Sun, we start the journey with the event that changes young Ben Sterling's life. "A small boy runs away from his aunt's house, back to the village of Stargrave, where strangeness awaits him in the churchyard." The story picks up twenty years later when Ben, a writer of children's fairy tales, and his wife, who illustrates his books, inherits the family home in Stargrave, England. With their two children they make the decision to move to Sterling House, grand and austere, surrounded by Sterling Forest and overlooking the small English village.

From the first glimpse of a white face in a window on the third floor of the unoccupied house to the Ben's ultimate discovery of the meaning of his grandfather's mysterious life and death, Campbell's early influence from Algernon Blackwood and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Myths is evident in the way that the old myths and fairy tales reflect a deeper meaning of the monsters that inhabit our memories, and that sometimes those monsters are real.

If you're looking for blood and guts, I'd give this one a pass. But if you enjoy your horror served cold and creepy, Midnight Sun by Ramsey Campbell is sure to leave you worrying about the shadow that you just saw out of the corner of your eye.

Written by Selena Wolff from Horror Novel Reviews. Horror Novel Reviews does not receive payment for reviews. All books are promotional copies.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of Campbell's least satisfying novels May 23 2003
By Daniel Jolley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Midnight Sun, Ramsey Campbell attempted to write a novel in the traditional, atmospheric horror style; in my opinion, he had only limited success in doing so. I have seen a couple of people place this novel alongside the best of Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, but in my opinion it falls far short of such a lofty mark. I don't think it is in any way Lovecraftian either, I should add. I've read a good many of Campbell's novels, and this is by far the most problematic of the bunch for me. The story is built around some type of preternaturally remarkable presence lurking within the forest outside Ben Sterling's childhood home, a presence that has called Ben home to unwittingly pursue its agenda of remaking the world in its own ice-cold image. The first section of the novels introduces us to Ben as a child. As an eight-year-old, he runs away from his aunt's home and makes his way to the gravesite of his family, all of whom had recently died in an automobile accident. Just before he can figure something mysterious out, he is returned to the home of his aunt, where we find him perusing the stories written by a singular ancestor of his, tales and legends brought home from the northern lands of the midnight sun. His aunt seems quite wary of the book and gets rid of it, but the stories have already planted themselves in Ben's mind. We then jump to the present, which finds Ben moving back to the Sterling home of his childhood with his wife Ellen, daughter Margaret, and son Ben. From that point on, it's one incredibly drawn-out process of watching Ben change as the mysterious forces at work in the dark forest prepare the way for the mysterious reawakening of a force older than man.
The strange woods outside the Sterling home are of utmost importance in the events of this story, but Ramsey Campbell went a little overboard on his descriptions of it. Every other page seemed to contain yet another lengthy appraisal of the strangeness of the forest, the mist above the forest, the way the forest seemed to move, etc. There also seems to be about a sentence apiece for every single snowflake that falls during the blizzard-like winter serving as the backdrop of events. Campbell just repeats himself over and over again to a frustrating degree, and this in fact works against his attempts to make the woods seem exotically creepy. On another note, I became frustrated with Ben's obvious change in personality and his wife's repeated dismissal of any problem until the very end; anyone who keeps turning off my heat during a blizzard is going to have some words from me, I can assure you, and this is the least of Ben's obvious problems. In this same vein, I have to point out my own displeasure at seeing the center of vision change from Ben to Ellen over the course of the second half of the book; this helps build the suspense for Ben's big (and ultimately disappointing) surprise, but I did not really like being thrown out of the main character's mind just when I was getting to know it. Reaching the ending of Midnight Sun took more work and time than it should have, and the ultimate reward is no reward at all. Suddenly, with only the weakest of a reason, Ben's thinking totally changes; this major plot point is not explained adequately at all, and it struck a major blow to my ultimate enjoyment of the story.
Midnight Sun could have been much shorter than it is without losing much of anything. What it really needs, though, is a plausible ending that doesn't leave the reader feeling cheated. I am a big fan of traditional horror, so I am not criticizing the genre when I say that this attempt at such writing falls far short of the bar set by the true masters of the early twentieth century.
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