Published by Ritual Limited Genres: Horror, Supernatural
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A bestial face appears at windows in the night.
In the big white house on the hill angels are said to appear.
A forgotten tenant in an isolated building becomes addicted to milk.
A strange goddess is worshipped by a home-invading disciple.
The least remembered gods still haunt the oldest forests.
Cannibalism occurs in high society at the end of the world.
The sainted undead follow their prophet to the Great Dead Sea.
A confused and vengeful presence occupies the home of a first-time buyer . . .
In ghastly harmony with the nightmarish visions of the award-winning writer's novels, these stories blend a lifelong appreciation of horror culture with the grotesque fascinations and childlike terrors that are the author's own.
Adam Nevill's best early horror stories are collected here for the first time.
“Britain’s premier horror novelist dazzles with an outstanding anthology of career spanning short stories”
Adam Nevill’s “Some Will Not Sleep” contains eleven wonderfully crafted stories creeping into many different corners of the genre this author knows better than the back of his hand. Recently, in the UK, this collection won the best single author short story collection at the prestigious British Fantasy Awards. These short works represent a cross section of creations from two decades in writing horror. Some being influenced by the curveballs life throws at us, others crap jobs, horrible flats, and spells living abroad.
If you are feeling particularly stingy you can still pick up ‘Before You Sleep: Three Horrors’ for free on Kindle in both the UK and the USA. Since this horrible little treat appeared a couple of months back it has been riding high and has topped various Kindle charts and includes three of the eleven stories featured in ‘Before You Sleep’. However, I’d strongly recommend you part with your hard earned £3.99 and buy the full version if you’re on Kindle. The freebie stories are particularly strong ones and will give you a good flavour of what Adam Nevill is all about should you not have read him before. ‘Where Angels Come In’ is full of impending doom as a schoolboy dare into a haunted house goes too far, with the tension ratcheting up step by horrible step. ‘Florrie’ is a clever ghost story which reverses some of the traditional ghost story elements making a poor sucker feel unsettled when he ventures outside. Finally, ‘The Ancestor’ is Nevill’s sly nod to J-Horror and the insidious little things that come out at night to play with children.
The author has obviously spent considerable time selecting his chosen eleven and as a result there is little padding or weak stories. As with everything, there were some stories that I liked more than others, but even those which weren’t amongst my favourites such as ‘What God Hath Wrought?’ a tale of revenge and very dodgy old religion in America of 1848 was intriguing, original and never dull. I couldn’t remember Nevill writing anything else set so far in the past and I’m all for writers exploring new areas, time periods and storylines beyond the comfort zone.
The pacing was one of the overwhelming strengths in these stories. This has obviously been a constant feature in Nevill’s novels and he seems to have a great knack in scaling everything down to the size required for success in the short story format. I’m not normally a huge reader of short stories as I often find them underwhelming, but a down-sized Adam Nevill story does not cheat. Some of my personal favouries kept you hanging until the final paragraph ‘To Forget and Be Forgotten’ a perfect example on a loner landing a dream job working nights as a doorman to an exclusive block of flats where nobody ever seems to be around too much. Until his peaceful nightly harmony is disturbed and the old grannies are much more than they seem. This was as a beautifully crafted 24 pages as you’re likely to read. Some of the stories end with a certain ambiguity which also works well in the short story format, with the author not needing to join every dot in the final sentences. Sometimes your own imagination can be enough.
I also has fun discovering ‘Adam Nevill the man’ which lurked in the shadows of many of the stories. We’re all had the flatmate from hell, maybe none as bad as the dude in ‘Yellow Teeth’ but close. The smell of this guy was described so vividly I was laughing as I read some of the passages to my wife and his ungodly waft was rising from the pages of the book! ‘Pig Thing’ (perhaps the creature on the cover of the book?) takes us back to the author’s childhood home in New Zealand where a creature stalks a family and their three children. These were both really great.
As a long term fan spotting early incarnations of ideas which germinated into novels such as the Swedish set ‘The Original Occupant’ which had a waft of ‘The Ritual’ was an added bonus. Many of the stories worked well as they’re grounded in realistic rational fears, childhood anxieties, isolation and the supernatural on a level which is very easy to believe in and visualise. Equally important is the avoidance of the clichés which often plague the genre, which is a real strength of this author.
‘Mother’s Milk’ is amongst the oldest story in the book and also one of my favourites. The informative end notes explain how much of a struggle it was to get many of these stories accepted anywhere. Ironic, considering how successful he is now and this was a deliciously horrible story which has a real yuck factor and the nastiest landlord who comes from beyond hell. Just don’t drink the milk… The unsettling ‘Dolls Hands’ was a nasty little hoot which also had a food theme that would also leave a bad taste in the mouth, it moves into the comfort zone of Joseph D’Lacey’s deliciously horrible ‘Meat’, if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean.
This collection of supernatural horror has the craftsmanship of an old master and it’s to savour. His follow up collection “Hasty for the Dark” should be released by the time you read this review, it is equally horrible.
Reviewed by Tony Jones
Another version of this review originally appeared in The Ginger Nuts of Horror, where Tony is a regular reviewer.
About Adam Nevill
Adam L.G. Nevill was born in Birmingham, England, in 1969 and grew up in England and New Zealand. He is the author of the horror novels: ‘Banquet for the Damned’, ‘Apartment 16’, ‘The Ritual’, ‘Last Days’, ‘House of Small Shadows’, ‘No One Gets Out Alive’, ‘Lost Girl’, and ‘Under a Watchful Eye’. His first short story collection, ‘Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors’, was published on Halloween, 2016, and won the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. His second collection of short fiction, ‘Hasty for the Dark: Selected Horrors’ is published on Halloween 2017.
His novels, ‘The Ritual’, ‘Last Days’ and ‘No One Gets Out Alive’ were the winners of The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel. ‘The Ritual’ and ‘Last Days’ were also awarded Best in Category: Horror, by R.U.S.A. Several of his novels are currently in development for film and television, and in 2016 Imaginarium adapted ‘The Ritual’ into a major motion picture with an October 13, 2017, release date in the UK and Europe.
Adam also offers three free books to readers of horror: ‘Cries from the Crypt’ (downloadable from his website), ‘Before You Sleep’ and ‘Before You Wake’ (available from major online retailers).