LESS THAN PERFECT COPIES
A NOVEL by Ramsey Campbell
PUBLICATION DATE October 2018
COVER ART Les Edwards
AUTHOR'S PHOTOGRAPH Chris Clarke
Unsigned Jacketed Hardcover — ISBN 978-1-786363-59-6 [£20]
The ground floor of the shop was an extensive labyrinth of counters and displays. Merchandise surrounded me in no order I could grasp: perfumes, kitchen utensils, crockery, electrical equipment, televisions by the dozen… Some items I could scarcely make out, given the unhelpful dimness. I might have enquired why the place was so poorly lit if I’d seen anyone to ask, or were my eyes or my mind to blame? I headed for the televisions, which ought to lend me some illumination while I waited to feel equal to venturing outside again. All of them were silenced, and every one was showing footage of a film about a war zone if not a city devastated by some other disaster. A subtitle was gliding off the screens, but I caught the single word WORLDWIDE. I was growing uneasier than I cared to define when I noticed a man, presumably a sales assistant, in the furthest aisle of screens. “Excuse me,” I called, “what’s happening there, do you know?”
He was turning towards me when I began to wish he would do nothing of the kind. Far from growing more prominent as it came, his profile appeared to be shrinking, the long sharp nose and outthrust chin dwindling by the instant. On the whole I was glad of the dimness, which prevented me to some extent from seeing his face. If only this had been the solitary reason that I couldn’t make it out – but as he confronted me across the screens displaying desolation I saw his face implode, sucked inwards like a rubber mask turned inside out. Before the features disappeared into the bulb of flesh perched on the neck he thrust out a hand, if very little of one. As the fingers swiftly atrophied I realised he was pointing the rudimentary lump at the end of his arm at me . . .
More than thirty years have passed since the events of Born to the Dark. Christian Noble is almost a century old, but his and his family’s influence over the world is stronger than ever. The latest version of their occult church counts Dominic Sheldrake’s son and the young man’s wife among its members, and their little daughter too. Dominic will do anything he can to break its influence over them, and his old friends Jim and Bobby come to his aid. None of them realise what they will be up against – the Nobles transformed into the monstrousness they have invoked, and the inhuman future they may have made inevitable . . .
The Way of the Worm is the final volume of Ramsey Campbell’s Brichester Mythos trilogy, in which he returns to his original themes and develops them in his mature style. The first volume, The Searching Dead, received the Children of the Night Award from the Dracula Society for the best original Gothic fiction of the year.