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The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell

The Overnight (edition 2006)

by Ramsey Campbell

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171769,515 (3.28)15
Title:The Overnight
Authors:Ramsey Campbell
Info:Tor Books (2006), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:My Library, Horror, Your library

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The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell




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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I was really looking forward to a good horror novel. It’s been ages since I read one and thought how great it would be to spend some time with dread, revulsion and angst. Alas, I did not get that. Not even any decent mystery. What a waste. This had possibilities.

I think what the author was going for, was a combination of The Shining and Poltergeist. A place that is haunted because of some tragedy that took place on the spot in the distant past, combined with a place that turns its inhabitants into strangers to themselves and everyone else. A madness inducing place where strange creatures lurk in the corners, but eventually will come out to get you. A place that will make the reader agonize and worry over the sympathetic characters that inhabit it.

Yeah, I think that’s what Campbell was going for. Too bad he got caught up in showcasing the totally asshole nature of all of his characters. That’s right; total asshole nature. He forgot to show us how they were BEFORE the place got to them. He didn’t make them likeable. Every single one of them was a jerk. Not just to one or two people on the staff, but to everyone else they worked with. How the hell can one function like that if you’re always at odds with everyone you have to deal with 5 days a week? And strangely, I’ve only ever seen this from British writers portraying British people and situations. It’s weird. It’s as if the author is overcompensating for the possibility that they create people too saccharine. Whatever the reason, Campbell did not create a single person for me to feel anything except contempt for.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was the whole lack of, well, horror. Sure there were things going bump in the night and all, but their presence wasn’t really felt. Every once in a while someone’s bookshelf would get messed up. Or someone would see a patch of damp on the carpet one minute, and it would be gone the next. No one else would see it. Or there would be strange patterns on the computer screens. Odd figures in the fog that seemed to trail long, gray dreadlocks. When something did actually happen (a clerk was run over in the parking lot), it wasn’t really that dramatic or agonizing. Lorraine wasn’t that well known to us, and what we did know was annoying so who would mourn her loss? And the creepy and portentous explanation for these malignant entities is never given. How the hell are we supposed to be afraid of that? That's half of what creates fear and dread. Hello. Aren't you supposed to be a famous HORROR novelist?

Even the multiple POV gimmick couldn’t save this book. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Sep 6, 2007 |
I have just recently discovered Ramsey Campbell. How is that possible?! I really enjoyed this book. It's scary and quirky and almost funny. A really interesting read. ( )
  stephanielynn | Apr 26, 2007 |
I haven’t read much horror fiction in years other than to dabble in the genre via an occasional Stephen King novel, and even those have become rarer and rarer for me lately. But, on the other hand, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to books about books or bookstores so when I noticed that Ramsey Campbell’s The Overnight was set in an English bookstore I grabbed it despite my general misgivings concerning horror novels. Frankly, they don’t scare me anymore and I find myself laughing at the “horror” more times than not. This one did not turn out to be the exception.

Ramsey Campbell has long been one of the mainstays of horror fiction with more than two dozen titles to his credit, such as The Doll Who Ate His Mother, The Last Voice They Hear, Scared Stiff and Waking Nightmares. None are titles that would make me reach for my wallet but I was so intrigued by the fact that Campbell wrote The Overnight after having worked full time at the Cheshire Oaks branch of Borders for several months that I decided to give it a try.

Strange things began to happen at the new Texts bookstore almost as soon as its American manager opened it for business. An unusually dense fog settled over the strip center in which it is located and never lifted again, the computers seemed to have minds of their own (I know, Bill Gates, nothing so crazy about that), one employee suddenly lost the ability to read, books were found damaged on the floor each morning despite having been properly shelved the night before, a strange, chill dampness invaded the store and customers stayed away in droves.

Soon enough the new store is ranked as the very worst of all the Texts locations and Woody, the American manager, is told to expect a visit from corporate bigwigs who are flying to England to see the problems for themselves. In desperation, Woody schedules the entire staff for the all-night marathon shelving and clean-up project that brings the novel to its horrific climax. Although I found myself chuckling at the “horror,” Campbell does provide an insider’s look at some of the drudgery associated with working in one of the big chain bookstores: the constant rush to get new books out of the stockroom and onto the shelves, the never ending battle to get every book back to its proper place at the end of the day despite the best efforts of customers to misplace them, and dealing with destructive customers being chief among them.

If you enjoy horror novels, and if they really do scare you, this is one of the better written ones that you are likely to find. If you are more attracted to the novel by the bookstore setting than by the horror, you will have to judge whether or not, at 396 pages, this one is for you.

Rated at: 2.5 ( )
  SamSattler | Apr 22, 2007 |
For any bookseller who's participated in a yearly inventory, this book is both scary and hilarious.
Those customers who just won't leave, sit around reading for hours? Books that jump off the shelves? Now we know the REAL reasons behind these mysteries. :)
That said, this book has characters you care about, a very chilling, ancient evil, and some real scares. Highly recommended. ( )
  Ann_Louise | Apr 3, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ramsey Campbellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morris, MarkIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Potter, J. K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Plot Summary: Malevolent entities emerge from the suffocating fog to wreak havoc on the Texts bookstore and staff, mixing up books, causing deadly car accidents and turning coworkers against each other. When the employees pull an all-nighter to get the shop in order for a corporate visit, a power failure, malfunctioning magnetic locks and dead phones cut off coworkers from the outside and from each other, while the evil denizens of the fog hunt their prey through the dark.
Appeal Factors: Pace and tension builds as story progresses. Spooky setting details create foreboding atmosphere. The creepy setting with the evil fog enveloping the bookstore is like a character in itself. Characters are not complicated. No swear words. Some dark humor. Medium level of horror: not bloody, but gradually building sense of dread, significant body count. Somewhat graphic descriptions of dead bodies.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765351536, Paperback)

The bookstore's shelves are put in order every night, but every morning, books are found lying all over the floor, many damp and damaged beyond repair. The store's computers keep acting up, and even when the machines are off, they seem to glow with a spectral gray light.
Things soon go from bad to worse. A salesclerk abruptly loses his ability to read. One employee accuses another of making sexual advances. A hit-and-run in the parking lot claims a life. The security monitors display half-seen things crawling between the stacks.
Desperate to pass a company inspection, the manager 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 the staff 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 the doorway to a hell unlike any other.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Horror. Overseeing his reluctant staff during an overnight inventory, Woody, an American manager of a British bookstore, works everyone to their limits to prove himself to his superiors but finds the job compromised by a series of bizarre events, including an employees spontaneous illiteracy and another workers death in a hit-and-run accident.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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