Think Yourself Lucky: Ramsey Campbell
Reviewed by Brian Bogart
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…
Ramsey Campbell has been around the old writer’s block and back again. I have always been a big fan, although admittedly- not every story has revved my imagination or had me singing its praises. But really, isn’t that true of every author? Not every story is for everyone, the saying goes.
“Think Yourself Lucky” just might be one of those books that solidifies that point, for a portion of readers.
David is NOT a writer. But at a writer’s group, he hesitantly comes up with a title for a story. But it seems someone has recently created a blog with that same title. Not that big of a deal- except this particular blog seems to line up suspiciously with David’s life in odd and glaring ways.
And the “murders”? Surely, just accidents at heart, as they have been reported. But they link up to the blog as well and since the online website is so consistent with Dave’s personal thoughts and interactions… He begins to feel fear and guilt and more than just a bit on edge.
So we have a possible Mr. Hyde scenario. Or a stalker. Something worse?
Wrap all the above in a commentary about the online world and the ego that hides there.
While reading this, I kept coming across moments where it would “hit” or “miss”, depending on the type of person reading. There is a biting, sardonic quality to this novel, peppered throughout not just the dialogue and interactions but driving the plot along with an angry smirk. The humor is cold-natured and mean-spirited- and it is meant to be this way. That may not sit well with some, especially on the surface.
But if you dig deeper, and forgive a bit of muddling as Campbell tries slightly different approaches and writing techniques (this will jar some readers in particular with some of the dialogue sequences) as the story moves along- the collective whole shifts a bit.
It’s a clever satire of sorts, but some readers may miss that because of the harshness. It’s aglow with sincerity at its heart- but it is tempered in the bitter and ho-drum banality of David and the other characters.
And I believe that a lot of this is intended, for better or for worse.
For some it will work-and they will praise it accordingly. Others, it just won’t sit well or be as enjoyable, despite some great moments of questioning sanity (which Campbell always excels at) and interesting concept.
It doesn’t work completely as intended in my opinion- but it is still a clever romp regardless. But as I said earlier- not necessarily for everyone. (This is true of some of Campbell’s writing, in general)
Think yourself more than lucky if you do not let the cynicism and mocking nature ruin your enjoyment of the tale Ramsey has crafted here.
Some readers will have all the luck.
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…
Brian Bogart is an American author of dark fiction and horror/fantasy. He has written stories most of his life and has been a fan of the genre since the age of seven. His approach to storytelling is a tad macabre at times but tries to capture the nuances of the humanity and sometimes, inhumanity, beneath the surface. He supports the horror community with bloodied open arms and demonic vigor.
Dream Darkly and Keep Writing.
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