Campbell is one of the long established masters of the genre although he is less well known and widely appreciated than other long established authors. Although widely respected by other writers in the field, he is never going to enjoy the popularity of others, such as King, because his characters are not as easy to relate to, his narrative style sometimes jars and his plot lines often fail to wrap up conclusively. He employs a graduated build up of unease that some readers might not have the patience for and his terrors are generally of a more ambiguous and nebulous nature that some might find frustrating.
This is the most recent work of his I've read and is no exception to the above. In fact, this is even more gradually and carefully developed than any of his stories I have read before. The precise nature of the menace is never clearly defined throughout. There is a lurking threat that never quite crystallises to something tangible that the reader can grasp hold of. And at the end it the reader is left wondering whether the protagonist has himself truly grasped it or merely become its victim, another agent it is using to further its aims.
Campbell has not shied away from modern themes, exploring the way people interact with strangers on the internet, the way that the internet is becoming the way we define truth even though on-line information is constantly changing and is being changed. By subverting information on the internet one can subvert our notions of truth, society and even others sense of who they are. The boundary between on-line and physical reality is breaking down. Does this make the internet the ultimate tool for a malevolent agency to pursue its nefarious aims?
A must read for all Campbell fans and/or fans of subtle, cosmic horror.