How nice is the cover, I don't often notice covers but it was one of the first things that drew me to this book.
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 1 day
Pages - 288
Publisher - Flame Tree Press
Source - ARC
Blurb from Goodreads
It’s Ray’s and Sandra’s first family holiday in Greece, on the newly developed island of Vasilema. The family weren’t to know that the skies are cloudier above the island than anywhere else in Greece, and they’re mostly intrigued by the local eccentricities and customs—the lack of mirrors, the outsize beach umbrellas, the saint’s day celebrated with an odd nocturnal ritual. Only why are there islanders who seem to follow the family wherever they go? Why do Sandra and the teenage grandchildren have strangely similar dreams? “I was in this huge place with no light and I didn’t want to see. Something sounded... huge.” And has Sandra been granted a wish she didn’t even know she made? Before their holiday is over, some of the family may learn more than they can bear about the secret that keeps the island alive...
Ray and Sandra are heading to Greece for a family holiday, their children and grand children are joining them. It is their first visit and the place is a wee bit strange, thinking it is just their customs and ways they will get used to it. Things however get stranger, affecting members of the family more than others, the locals react bizarrely at times and Ray needs answers the more he gets drawn in.
Ok so this is my first dance with this author, anyone who has Stephen King's backing - you just know is going to be good. From the get go we pretty much know something is afoot but you aren't exactly sure what. The tingling at the base of your spine, the urge to put the light on a bit brighter as you go further into the story. This isn't an in your face horror, it is more a slow burning gothic type style with suspense and bone chilling tension building up. Subtle hints, creepiness, warning signs that as a reader I was urging the characters to pick up on.
There is a huge focus on family dynamics and the family relationship as a whole, I really hated the son in law, how he spoke to staff, locals and his family. Pompous I think is the word that comes to mind and he really irritated me but it makes for good characterisation. We see how the family interact and are with each other and to the locals. What they want to do with the holiday and what is important to them, the choices they make and how the locals engage with them.
The book has many dimensions, relationships, love, family, local history and a bit of legends. If you are looking for an in your face, monsters and jumping scare fest this isn't the book for you. However, if you want something that is like the old black and white movies, slow building tension, hints at what is looming, dark, atmospheric and engaging then this is your book. Nothing screams out at you, it is all so subtle for the most part which sometimes gives the reader the power to build the fear and terror themselves. I actually nearly missed my bus stop because I was enthralled within a specific scene again nothing was in your face but I was holding my breath at what I suspected was just around the corner.
All to often we get blood, guts and gore but sometimes we like to revisit the golden oldies were you don't see the monster but you know it is there, something is there. Jaws and Blairwitch had you the audience doing the work but gave you the tools to build the terror (Jaws to a point), this was what Campbell done here I think. I read a lot of books, horror, supernatural, spooky, monsters and all the other genres, this was something different for me. Creeped me out at parts, some of the family scenes enraged me again purely because one character grated on me so much. But overall I loved the feel of the book and what I feel the author did, I also enjoyed the story within the story. I would love Campbell to visit that again and make it a book in its own right. 3.5/5 for me this time, although it is my first dance with this author I know it won't be my last, I look forward to checking out more of his work.