Demons By Daylight Paperback – Mar 1 1990
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The End of a Summer's Day
At First Sight
The Franklyn Paragraphs
The Old Horns
The Second Staircase
The Enchanted Fruit
Made in Goatswood
As a reader and admirer of Lovecraft - though no expert nor well-versed, as such - I had high hopes. I was expecting Lovecraft minus the repetition and updated to more modern horror scenes. I was hoping for more rounded Lovecraftian tales.
But the "horror" in these stories are hardly Lovecraftian. And the language is far, far away from Lovecraft.
Unlike the easy and light language of Lovecraft and most horror stories, Campbells text is dense, multilayered, at times flowery, at times hard to follow, and - unlike most horror - requires close concentration.
At first I was put off by this. But as I read on, deciding to take Campbell at his own level, I found the stories fulfilling and utterly inventive. The horror is mainly psychological, almost realistic and soci-culturally significant - a surprise within the genre. The stories, unlike H.P are not of "beast of unknown" or strange unknowable figures of the night. No, they are as the title says: Demons by DAYLIGHT.
Not monsters, but the monsters of the subconscious.
Sexual tension, rivalry, dark pasts and all to human motives drive the horror in this collection. Whether it's lovers acting out hostile unintentional revenges or horrific breakdowns of communication, they all leave you first wondering where the horror "is", only to realize the text shows a much more real terror.
The story 'The Interloper by Errol Undercliffe' could be discussed at length. An interesting piece of meta-fiction, and both adventurous enough and similar enough to be both within and outside the Lovecraft universe.
This being said: The language is decidedly of a bygone era. Not long gone, but of a time before youtube and Netflix, when there was "time" for more dense prose. A time before the fat was trimmed.
Personally, I believe the lighter prose of contemporary literature is an improvement. Instead of being a proof of the "dumbing down" of our minds, it's a compromise between reader and writer. Like many books written before the last twenty years, so much text could have been removed with little damage to the artistic intent.
This is, of course, subjective.
If you don't mind, or even prefer, this older dense prose, you will find this book sublime.
If, however, you expect Stephen King prose, you'll be put off at first. You might read on and get the same surprise I did.
But my final statement is that this book _could_ have been more, so much more. I am unable to get past the hostility and impenetrability of the prose. But that's a personal preference.
I wont return to Campbell, but learned a lot more than I expected and understand the genre more by this strange detour in the landscape.
Standout tales include "The Interloper" (a school inspector turns out to be......????), "The Old Horns" (a seaside disappearance leads to a fleeting pagan visitation), and, best of all in my opinion, "The Sentinels" (a hilltop circle of stone statues is accompanied by some inexplicable addition).
It is scandalous that this nigh perfect collection seems to be no longer available.
The lighter tales in the book, such as the Forbidden Fruit and Made in Goatswood, are quite enjoyable. The Sentinels was probably the best story for me, thanks to the incredibly eerie images that it brought to mind. The setting of this one was fantastic, the suspense nearly overwhelming. If the rest were like this, I'd have to think about whether to give the book four or five stars.
Although I'm not a fan of this collection as a whole, the few bright spots for me were time well spent, and I still got plenty of hope for Dark Companions, and for Campbell in general.