When I was about ten years old, I went from reading Enid Blyton to adult novels in the space of a few days. The book that did it was Leviathan by John Gordon Davis, in which a team of ocean ecologists attack and capture a Russian whaling vessel. The book was stacked with sex, action and gore and I was entranced.
A room full of mysterious doors appeared in my imagination, each one an unread book. Next thing I knew I was striding down dark corridors in the minds of James Herbert, Guy N. Smith, Graham Masterton, Stephen King and Clive Barker, joyously terrified, always trying new doors.
As a horror writer, you come to a point at which there’s very little that frightens you within the genre. I’m far more afraid of things like poverty, failure, solitude and illness – adult monsters with as much power as the ones which used to wait under my bed; monsters no less terrifying, for they seem just as real and possible. In becoming an adult, the things that used to frighten me in fiction rarely had the same power.
One of the few authors writing now who still has the ability to anchor me in a story, scare me and make me keep turning the pages, is Adam Nevill.
I’ve read all his novels – Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, The Ritual and Last Days – and you should too. Nevill has a knack of positioning the extraordinary world so close to the everyday world, that you don’t notice when he makes his monsters totally palpable, plausible and real. Next thing you know, they’re grinning in the shadows behind you, their rotten breath on your neck.
If you fancy ‘growing’ with Nevill, then begin with Banquet – soon to be re-released – and work your way through. But if you want to descend into terror, uncertain if you’ll ever return, read my favourite of his titles: The Ritual. That book still haunts me now and contains some of the tightest, most soul-stealing prose I’ve ever read.
You’ll never be the same again.
Adam’s newest work, House of Small Shadows will be available in Oct 2013 from Pan McMillan.