Friday, February 10, 2023

Ancient Images by Ramsey Campbell

Happy Friday! Today I'm super excited to be part of the Random Things Tours for Ramsey Campbell's rereleased Ancient Images

How could any avid film collector resist the promise of a missing film starring Boris Karloff and Bela Legosi? A film no one has ever admitted to seeing, no less! Sandy's friend and coworker has spent years tracking down just this film and he's finally found it. But before they can watch the film, Sandy witnesses her friend tumbling from the roof of a building. And the film in question is turns up missing. 

With her friend's legacy in mind, Sandy becomes determined to find out what happened to the missing film. But the amount of secrecy and threat that surrounds not only the film itself but the story it's based on is more than she ever expected!

So not only is Ramsey Campbell one of the horror greats, but this book in particular has been on my radar for a while. And I was disappointed to find that it was out of print. Originally published in 1989, the book has thankfully been brought back to print by the fabulous folks over at Flame Tree Press!

I first heard about this book via an interview with Gemma Files about her own book Experimental Film where she cites Ancient Images as one of the inspirations behind her novel. And while there are no shortage of books about cursed films, I would say that when you have one of the best mentioning another one as one of the best, you know you need to track it down :)

So yes, I was thrilled to see this was coming back in print and I think it's the perfect time! Found Footage horror has been on trend for a while, and I absolutely love it! 

Here we have a film historian who's been tracking down a film for two years before finally securing a copy. Two years! And the book begins with his revealing to Sandy that he's not only found it, but that he's inviting her to an exclusive screening. 

Campbell does a fantastic job of setting the scene so that the reader feels like they're right alongside Sandy. And the anticipation of what the film would turn out to be is hugely tense! Especially when it goes missing before our narrator can see it. 

But of course she doesn't suspect what we the reader already suspects, that the film itself is somehow behind her friend's death. 

Sure, the police believe it was a break in. That the man died trying to save his sought after film from a thief. And that's what Sandy suspects as well. But seeing as this is a horror novel, I would say the reader already has more complex suspicions at this stage!

And honestly, that's just the first few chapters. There are flashbacks to a side story woven throughout, the meaning of which becomes more clear as the story progresses. But for me, those opening chapters set the tone for a perfectly enthralling story that is every bit as fantastic as I'd hoped it would be!

Ancient Images is officially out on February 21. Be sure to preorder a copy from Bookshop.org so you have it in your TBR ASAP!