A bookstore can be a wonderful, welcoming place of both commerce and curiosity. That's the goal for Woody, an American recently transferred to England to run a branch of Texts. He wants a clean, orderly store and lots of sales to show his bosses when they arrive from the States for a pre-Christmas inspection. Not easy given the shop's location in a foggy strip mall.
And things keep going wrong. No matter how often the shelves are put in order before the doors are locked at night, when the staff returns in the morning, books are lying all over the floor, many damp and damaged beyond repair. The store's computers keep acting up-errors appear in brochures and ads and orders disappear completely. And even when the machines are turned off, they seem to glow with a spectral gray light.
The hit-and-run death of an employee in the store's parking lot marks a turning point. One employee accuses another of making sexual advances and they come to blows. Between one sentence and the next, one loses his ability to read. The security monitors display half-seen things crawling between the stacks that vanish before anyone can find them.
Desperate, Woody musters his staff for an overnight inventory. When the last customers reluctantly depart, leaving almost-visible trails of slime shining behind them, the doors are locked, sealing Woody and the others inside for a final orgy of shelving.
The damp, grey, silent things that have been lurking in the basement and hiding in the fog may move slowly, but they are inexorable. This bookstore is no haven. It is the doorway to a hell unlike any other.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Readers will hesitate to visit their favorite chain bookstore after finishing this horror tour de force from British author Campbell (The Darkest Part of the Woods). Texts, an American bookseller, has just opened its first U.K. outlet in newly built Fenny Meadows retail park, and manager Woody Blake is struggling to whip the store into shape, despite such perplexing setbacks as computers spitting out flyers with embarrassing typos and books nightly disarranging themselves on the shelves and oozing grubby residues. You might think that something from the boggy terrain was corrupting the store environment-and indeed that's what a local author suggests when he recounts the site's ancient history of draining itself, then swallowing up villages built on it. The stage is set for shocking revelations when Woody calls for a work all-nighter and the staff finally see what's patronizing their store after hours. Eldritch horrors are Campbell's forte, and he does a brilliant job of insinuating them into the modern work environment through computers, cell phones and security cameras whose apparent malfunction is an index to the indescribable forces they channel. His rich and evocative prose serves, like the Fenny Meadows fog, to wrap scenes in a dense miasma of disturbing images and shadowy shapes. Nearly plotless, this novel is one of his most sustained exercises in atmosphere and a high water mark of horror. FYI: Campbell has won more than 20 World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Bram Stoker and other major awards.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An ok read
Not as great as the reviews would suggest. At times I would find myself just scanning some chapters just to get through them, not a sign of a great read. Mostly the characters were annoying and irritating. As for horror, well there would be a few lines at the end of each long winded chapter but they never amounted to much. The ending came so abruptly I didn’t know it until I turned the page to see the acknowledgements. Maybe I just picked a bad example of Mr. Campbell’s work , I hope so. I will try one more highly reviewed book and see how it goes.