Gary Fry mentions Ramsey Campbell in the opening credits of Siren of Depravity. In many ways this story mirrors Mr. Campbell’s style. It is a slow burning wick atop a stack of dynamite. There is much retrospection and second-guessing of self. These are a pair of tools Mr. Campbell used well. Also, as it often happens in one of Mr. Campbell’s books, I began wondering if anything was going to happen in Siren of Depravity... and then it did.
Slow wick. Stack of dynamite.
However. That is all the background noise and pacing. On the surface, Siren of Depravity offers a wealth of multi-dimensional characters with heavily layered thoughts. Building a new scenario on a Lovecraft tale with inspirations gained from Stephen King’s Revival, this story takes on the theme of a fumbling junior detective stepped into a heap of shit that quickly rises over the hero’s head. Like any good mystery unfolding, the author sprinkles breadcrumbs, vast crumbs that prove easy to follow once the twists, the first one being predictable, start enfolding the finale.
And what a finale.
This story is quite slow, though never meandering and once the arc reaches for peak, it reaches high. The suspense is nothing short of gripping, heart pounding, a train barrelling down on you while you sprint along a bridge above the abyss. After that initial (foreseeable) curveball, little twists of potential depravity take hold while the pages can’t flip fast enough. Using disgust, pain and potential hell, the finale proves the value of the quiet initial three-quarters.
Siren of Depravity is a dynamic, full-bodied horror story and wildly entertaining in equal measures of mystery and terror.