Some Will Not Sleep by Adam Nevill
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 L.G. Nevill’s best early horror stories are collected here for the first time.
Seems entirely apt, what with Halloween being just around the corner, that this week’s review falls squarely into the horror genre. Some Will Not Sleep is collection of Adam Nevill’s short fiction that were original published in the period between 1995 to 2011. Eleven wonderfully macabre tales that cover the whole gamut of the horrific. The supernatural rubs shoulders with the bizarre, body horror and psychological trauma walk hand in hand. What can else can I say, there is something here for every fan of dark fiction which ever flavour you prefer.
Where Angels Come In – Things kick off in a grand fashion. The local haunted house and three boys trying to out dare one another. What could possibly go wrong? You can’t beat a haunted house story. There are some nicely creepy moments going on here.
Original Occupant – A man dreams of solitude, of getting away from it all. A remote cottage in Sweden forest seems like the ideal place to find that peace. Sadly, he finds he is not entirely alone. There is something inherently appealing about bringing horror and isolation together. I suspect we are often at our weakest when we are alone. This story plays with that idea to great effect.
Mother’s Milk – It should be the most natural thing in the world, a mother’s milk. In this tale Nevill manages to twist it into something far more sinister. If this story doesn’t put you off drinking milk, then I don’t expect anything will. A strange semi-human family live in the woods. Their only source of sustenance? The mother’s milk. Turns out addiction and body horror are a heady mix.
Yellow Teeth – We’ve all been there. Someone has invaded your personal space and made themselves at home. Is there anything worse than an unwelcome houseguest? How about a religious nut who can’t take the hint when it comes to overstaying his welcome?
Pig Thing – Hector, Jack and Lozzy live with their parents on a remote farmstead in New Zealand. A monstrous creature terrorises this British family who have immigrated to the back of beyond. Perhaps their nearest neighbours will be able to help? I’m a big fan of the Outback classic Razorback. Pig Thing easily be set in the same universe.
What God Hath Wrought? – A gnarled old gold prospector meets a mysterious soldier out on the prairie and so begins a classic tale of Western vengeance.
Doll Hands – Based on this story’s title you may be forgiven for thinking this tale features Donald Trump. (It doesn’t, thank goodness). It does however manage to be a damning exploration of the class system. In the future, with society is on its last legs, those who can afford it still get to eat, no matter where the protein comes from.
To Forget and Be Forgotten – Jack is a night watchman who wants nothing more than to be left alone. The residents in the building he patrols have very different ideas. This starts off very normal and spirals off on a weird, slightly surreal tangent. For someone who is a fan of peace and quiet, this story particularly appealed.
The Ancestors – Yuki has a special friend called Maho. Maho has all the best toys. I’ll be honest, one of the things that really freaks me out is creepy children. The first, and only, time I watched Ringu I had terrible nightmares and woke up screaming. This story properly messed with my head. Subtle, but with an ever growing sense of unease, you just know things are going to end badly.
The Age of Entitlement – Toby really is the worst friend in the world, frankly he is just plain rude. His travelling companion has had more than enough of his boorish ways and decides something needs to be done. For reasons I would have difficulty adequately explaining, this story reminded me of Tales of the Unexpected. You remember, that wonderfully dark anthology show from the nineteen eighties whose stories often ended on a delightfully dark note.
Florrie – Frank has grand plans for his new house but there is a presence there that has other ideas. We round things off with another tale of isolation and introspection. The scariest thing about this story is that viewed one way, it all sounds as though it could be frighteningly real. I think Adam Nevill may have saved the best story for last. There is something heartbreakingly sad about Florrie. I loved it.
As an added bonus the anthology also contains some of the author’s notes and details of the publication history for each story. This additional insight helps to frame the collection and also sheds some light on the themes and ideas that makes Adam Nevill tick. As a relatively new fan of this author’s work, I’ve only read No One Gets Out Alive and Lost Girl so far, it is fascinating to explore some of his earlier short fiction. It is always interesting to see the evolution of an author. Being able to compare his most recent work and Some Will Not Sleep was a perfect way to do this. This experience has certainly made me more keen to visit the rest of this author’s back catalogue.
Some Will Not Sleep is published by Ritual Limited and is available from 31st October. If you’re in the mood for a Halloween scare, then I would suggest you need look no further.