Science fiction and fantasy
by Adam Nevill
Last Days builds up tension inexorably. It helps that the subject of Kyle's documentary is horrific in a purely human way, because it's a criminal cult which engages in mind games and the mistreatment of its members. This echoes a few genuine cults (not to mention the behaviour of certain dictatorships), so it's hard not to feel a powerful sense of revulsion. The occult goings-on intensify the horror, but the stage is already well and truly set. This is an effectively scary novel. The only thing missing is a few light moments to put us off our guard, like the scene in Alien when we think there's an alien lurking, but it turns out to be a cat. Instead of a rise and fall of tension, Adam Nevill is content to have it keep rising without any let-up. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to keep reading, but there's no doubt this works as horror.
I was less sure about the main characters. Kyle and Dan are cipherish, everyday blokes who come across as a bit wet. Their interviewees are mostly older victims and other people who had contact with the cult, and these are often larger-than-life characters. There's a tendency towards the stereotypical, such as when we meet Jed, the mean special forces guy they team up with later on. One of the most interesting characters is Max, who knows more than he lets on. He's an enigma, and we don't know until the end how much or little of a villain he is.
The main likeable aspect about Kyle is his guilt over getting his friend involved. He has the choice between safety or making money, he thinks, but he feels bad for selfishly making that decision for someone else.
The ending is abrupt, with little space wasted on wrapping up the story. It doesn't need much either. But then, this novel is more about terrifying people than it is about ponderous reflection.
27th November 2013
If you like this, try:Dark Currents by Ian Whates
This anthology of speculative fiction features stories on a theme of dark currents, whether they are electrical, nautical, or something else entirely.
The End Of The Line by Jonathan Oliver
This collection of horror stories is based on the Underground and other subterranean places.
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
A pair of detectives take on a cult of monsters that lurk under the streets of San Francisco.
Review © Ros Jackson
Add your thoughtsAll comments are pre-moderated. Please do not post spoilers or abusive language.