Last Days (book, Adam Nevill, 2012)

A review from SFX #224.


Author: Adam Nevill

Publisher: Macmillan

530 pages

Things literally come out of the walls

Taking its cues from real-life cults, Last Days is an effectively creepy novel that will have you sleeping with the lights on.

When filmmaker Kyle is offered the job of a lifetime – and a chance to clear his immense debts – he leaps at the chance. Hired to document the paranormal side of notorious 70s cult, The Last Days, he’s initially fired up, but the uncanny proves itself all too real and he’s drawn into a mystery that did not finish, after all, on a bloody night in the desert forty years ago.

Nevill torments us with things in the dark, and afflicts his characters with astral projection and nasty visions (satisfyingly icky they are too), and his fantastic job of capturing our primordial fear of the night is heightened by the flickery, hyper-real weirdness of sleep deprivation.

You might think, with secrets unspooling in front of the unblinking lens of the camera, that Last Days would be a literary version of a “found footage” flick, but thankfully Nevill dodges that bullet. The footage isn’t found per se; instead he uses the filming schedule as a way of building revelation on revelation as our terrified hero uncovers what The Last Days were really up to.

The story flags before the final act, but picks up again to deliver a dramatic climax. Sometimes the language is florid, and the exposition is cumbersome in places, but you’ll be chewing your fingernails too hard in fear to notice.

Genuinely spooky.

Did you know?

Nevill’s favoured protagonists are outsider-artists, the archetypal writer in the garret. He lived that way for 15 years himself.


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