Think Yourself Lucky -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review ***spoilers***

Think Yourself Lucky

Ramsey Campbell

“David Botham just wants a quiet ordinary life―his job at the travel agency, his relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie. The online blog that uses a title he once thought up has nothing to do with him. He has no idea who is writing it or where they get their information about a series of violent deaths in Liverpool. If they’re murders, how can the killer go unseen even by security cameras? Perhaps David won’t know until they come too close to him―until he can’t ignore the figure from his past that is catching up with him…”

We all have many personas. We have our work persona, our home persona; we may act differently with different friends and relatives. We also have, in our current technological society, our online personas. From behind a keyboard, we can be who we want to be. We can say things we maybe normally wouldn’t say in public. This isn’t necessarily that we are ‘keyboard warriors’, it may be that we are shy, and quiet, and that we feel more comfortable behind the anonymity of a computer screen.  As humans, we are very adept at adapting our outward personality to our current situation and needs.

Then there is the inside voice. This is the persona that only we, as the individual, are aware of. That internal monologue, it’s the constant chatter within our mind. We all have this. It’s that voice you don’t want let loose in polite society, the one that is screaming at your annoying co worker, the one that is telling the person talking too loud on their mobile phone to shut up.

Think Yourself Lucky is a story with many layers.

David Botham is just an ordinary guy. He has a job in a travel agency, a girlfriend who he adores. He has a good life. He attends a writing group, only after some heavy persuasion from one of the members. He doesn’t see himself as a writer, but he is swayed into giving away a title, if he were to write – ‘Better Out Than In’. A title which I have to say, describes this story perfectly.

A series of accidents occur, all of which appear to be described in detail on a blog which is using David’s title. These are people that David has been, or is connected to. He is terrified, he can’t focus, he can’t think straight. He doesn’t know if he is going mad, if he is the one hurting people, or if someone is following him, using him as a scapegoat for these so-called accidents.

This is a really great novel, a re-release thanks to Flame Tree Press. It’s an inventive insight into the mind of the average person. The deepest thoughts, the feelings we want to keep to ourselves, and our hidden temperaments. It shows the damage of keeping our feelings locked away, the pain it can cause us. And it shows us the power of release. When we admit what we truly think and think. How much better off we can be if we are just honest with ourselves and others.

This is a great read from Ramsey Campbell. I wasn’t too sure on this one at first. The style, the switch between David and the blog was a little hard for me to follow initially. But once I got into it, I really got into it, reading most of it in one afternoon as I really became invested.

The plot develops really nicely, the pacing is great, and the payoff at the end is worth it. The characters are very ‘real’.  Average people, a good mix of personalities with the right balance of temperaments. David and his girlfriend Stephanie are two people you can really get behind. You want them both to be okay.

You can buy it here on Amazon (UK site):

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach – Book Review ***Spoilers***

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach

Ramsey Campbell

Flame Tree Press

Publication Date: 6th September 2018

 Book Review

 

 

“They feed so Skiá feeds”

 

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of this book to review in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press.

 

My fiancé is a huge Ramsey Campbell fan so he was just as excited as me for me to begin. His writing has been a great source of comfort for Andy over the years and he takes every opportunity he can to re read the books he owns. I can see why, the writing is so fluid and detailed, pulling you in one sentence at a time, engulfing you with this feeling that you are there, right in the middle of the unfolding drama. I was dragged in from the start with this book; the increasing tension, the desperation to know just exactly what was happening, I found it hard to put down, only stopping when real life traumas like work got in my way (even then I was reading it on my lunch break, so engrossed that I didn’t hear my colleague trying to talk to me for over 10 minutes).

 

I really appreciated that we were never given the full picture of what was happening until quite near the end. I knew from the start there was something ‘off’ with the Greek Island of Vasilema, there was something unseen and unspoken, a darkness that lingered and terrified. Only the locals seemed to know, but they appeared to ignore it, or at least pretend to.

 

The tone of the story was very much about our mortality and prolonging life. The focus of the book surrounded Ray and Sandra, as well as their children and grandchildren. We are aware from the beginning that something is wrong with Sandra, we can feel the concern and protectiveness that Ray has for her, confirmed when he proceeds to put on a facade of normality for the rest of the family. He doesn’t want to ruin the family vacation. The descriptiveness of how frail Sandra was, the writing was both delicate and yet intense, fully encompassing just how brittle she appeared to be, and how she was deteriorating before Ray. The way she was then invigorated, seemingly from a bite, or the island, or a combination, gathering her strength back very slowly over the two weeks, was beautiful to read yet unnerving all the same.

I found all the subtle references throughout the book relating to mortality, and the curse of immortality I felt, very well thought out and very well placed. The driving force of the story, the family, their relationships, and their coming to terms with Sandra’s illness, was so well integrated with the underlying tension of darkness. It was claustrophobic in parts, this all encompassing, all controlling darkness; it seemed to be the all powerful force on the island. Even the buses wouldn’t stop after dark.

After the initial night, Sandra had been bitten by some kind of insect after falling asleep on the balcony outside their room. While Ray and Sandra awaited the rest of the family at a local taverna, Chloe’s Garden, the waitress seemed to be quite disconcerted with Sandra’s bite. Responding with “I pray not” when Ray comments “at least my wife won’t get bitten here”. There were also the seemingly religious women on the bus, blessing Sandra, Tim and Jonquil (the three members of the family in total who had been bitten) every time they boarded; we found near the end of the book that it was only these three family members whom the women had been blessing, and no one else. They appeared to know that they had been tainted in some way by the island. I particularly enjoyed a scene over dinner one evening in Chloe’s Garden, in which birthday greetings of a long life were conveyed, and rebuked, as they are seen to be more than a curse by the locals.

From the start you could feel the underlying oppression, a dark force, something that wanted to feed, that needed to feed. The phrase, “They feed so Skiá feeds” becomes more and more unsettling. Even more unnerving was what felt like captivity in some ways, they just couldn’t leave the island. Boat trips cancelled, the owners of tour boats and fishing boats refusing to take them – ‘them’ referring to Sandra, Tim and Jonquil. There is a notion mentioned several times relating to ‘coming back to find your memories’, rather than to re-live them, I found this to be very unsettling indeed, what happens to you here that you forget after you leave? The story ended with the family leaving on the ferry away from the island, with Sandra, Jonquil and Tim trying to remember the details of their two week vacation. It was ambiguous yet implied that they were beginning to forget.

 

5/5 – If I could give it more I would. This book is beautifully thought out and so amazingly written. It really gets you thinking, and stays with you afterwards.

Lesley-Ann (The Housewife of Horror)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑