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Literature / Midnight Sun (1990)

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The Sterling family is in the grip of something absolutely chilling.

A 1990 horror novel by Ramsey Campbell.

Ben Sterling's family have all died in a mysterious incident. After being sent to live with his aunt Beryl, the 8-year-old runs away to the village of Stargrave to visit their graves. While in the Stargrave Cemetery, he sees something floating in the air that sends him into a trancelike state. Upon returning to his aunt's house, Ben finds a book called Of the Midnight Sun written by his great-grandfather, Edward Sterling. This ancestor was a folklorist who ventured into some of the coldest regions of the world to collect stories passed down through countless centuries. He was regarded as an eccentric, with his descendants being looked askance by the townspeople decades after his ill-fated adventure into the Grim Up North. Ben's aunt does not hold a high regard for the Sterlings herself, and takes the book away from him after she catches him sneaking a glimpse at it.


Over twenty years later, Ben is a successful children's book author. His aunt has passed away and Ben feels a strong pull to move back to the town where he spent his early childhood. Not long after he arrives in Stargrave with his wife and two children, mysterious happenings suggest that the town has sinister plans for the Sterlings.

This book provides examples of the following:

  • Braving the Blizzard: The Sterlings leave their house to check on some friends in town during the worst Cold Snap anyone can remember.
  • Campbell Country
  • Creepy Family: Slightly applicable to Ben's family. Due to bizarre events surrounding his great-grandfather Edward, the Sterlings have been viewed as outcasts and avoided by the residents of Stargrave.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Sterling Forest is home to an otherworldy presence.
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  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: The Sterling children, especially Johnny are excited about all the snow that is expected to arrive just in time for Christmas.
  • Eldritch Location: Ben is drawn to a spot in the middle of the forest that is perfectly round in an unnatural way. He suspects this is the home of the force that has been exerting its influence over his family and the village of Stargrave.
  • Ice Crystals: A recurring occurance in this book. Ben sees a strange shimmering cloud of ice crystals in the Stargrave cemetery. Years later, they keep appearing in patterns all over the town's windows.
  • Mysterious Mist: One of these appears to 8-year-old Ben Sterling and tries to lead him into the woods.