Ramsey Campbell is a name I see frequently making the rounds in horror conversations on Twitter, so I was really excited to see a new title available on NetGalley and even more thrilled to dive in.
Dominic Sheldrake has an active imagination, but nothing prepares him for the horror that awaits when he begins to suspect that one of his teachers might have ulterior motives in the community. Talk emerges of a man who claims he can connect the dead to their loved ones, that people have heard the dead speak, and after being plagued by strange dreams upon visiting a WWI battle site, Dominic is both frightened and intrigued by Mr.Noble and his abilities. The first in a series, The Searching Dead is a wonderful, terrifying ride. Campbell's writing style is fluid and masterful, and the structure worked really well for me. There's an underlying sense of nostalgia that adds to the atmosphere and pushes the storytelling to an immersive level. Maybe I have a soft spot for the time period, but this gave me some serious Hearts in Atlantis vibes, and I loved the character of Dominic. Seeing the world through his eyes while also trying to figure out Mr. Noble's intentions was a wonderfully tense reading experience, and I can't wait to see where Campbell takes the next installment. Personally, my favorite interactions were between Dominic and Mrs. Norris. While sparse, there's an art to using a minor character in a way that emphasizes the feeling you want readers to take away, and Campbell's execution of a believer-gone-wrong was chilling. There are little moments like this throughout, woven into the plot with choice horrific imagery and reflection on the existential nature of mankind, but Mrs. Norris stole the show for me. Overall, The Searching Dead is a superb story with a slow burn feel that will keep you turning pages. Due out in February, The Searching Dead will be one to add to your TBRs now. Big thanks to Flame Tree and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.