I was initially given an ARC of Some will not sleep, but once I’d seen Ritual Press’ hardback signed version I just had to buy a copy. Before I delve into the stories, a word has to be said about the production quality of the copy I received. In short, it is superb. The spec of the imprint includes 120gsm Munken Pure paper and the cover bound in Wibalin boards with printed endpapers, together with a foiled spine and head and tail bands. This boosted my reading experience to the next level as the thick, smooth paper was a delight to run your hands over and the actual smell of the book was divine (or should I say infernal?)
Anyhow, on to the stories themselves. Something that strikes the reader right from the outset is the sheer descriptive quality of Nevill’s prose. This is a central strand of his author ‘voice’ running consistently through these tales, although the storytelling style can be quite diverse – something which is explained in Nevill’s author’s notes at the end of the book. In this respect, the author can be likened to a progressive rock band in the sense that Nevill constantly experiments with style and narrator’s voice in the same way that, for example, Rush, did not stand still from the seventies through to the present day with their musical output. The product has the author/musician’s unmistakable signature, but it does not stay static, fixed in a desperate attempt to adhere to a winning formula.
In ‘Some will not sleep’ (SWNS), as is Nevill’s wont, the horror is often seen in the peripheral vision, hinted at rather than displayed full frontal, as it were. This makes the tales all the more terrifying. I’m not going to give a run-down of each story; rather, mention a few highlights.
Keeping the reader on the edge of their seat is difficult to achieve in written horror these days, but through use of rich descriptions that link setting and characters seamlessly, the author plays to the strengths of the written word. In ‘What God hath Wrought’, for example, Nevill paints mini-scenes depicting confrontations with the half-dead spaced out staccatto-fashion as a US dragoon deals death with his sword, ‘Wrist-breaker.’ Other tales horrify by exploring amplification of the merely irritating into a helter-skelter descent into terror. In ‘Yellow teeth’, a home invasion by a malignant narcissist turns into the awakening of an ancient horror. Yet the most disturbing part for me was the unfolding of the said antagonist’s influence as he ransacks the main character’s pristinely organised house and leaves it a den of squalor – something that flipped my horror switches as it conflicts with my personal OCD leanings.
Nevill’s narrative voice takes on a simpler tone in ‘Mother’s milk’ as we witness the gradual entrapment borne of dependency that a simple man experiences. As the title suggests, the source of addiction is far from ordinary.
The variety of tone and setting make this horror anthology stand out. Whether it be the Lovecraftian slant on a haunted house theme, or the future dystopian vision of a resident’s home, nestled in a world cloaked with a chemically toxic atmosphere. In this tale, ‘Doll Hands’, cannibals’ dishes are served to order using a social underclass of ‘livestock.’
Mix these premises with the disappearance of a man who holes himself up in a remote, and wintry Swedish landscape; or an oriental-flavoured short featuring miniature terrors from the viewpoint of a child, and you have the recipe for a rewarding read this halloween.
‘Some will not sleep’ is available in ebook form from the usual retailers:
US Amazon – https://amzn.com/B01LBBQV7W
UK Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LBBQV7W
But I strongly recommend the hardback version that you can obtain while stocks last from Adam’s own website – http://www.adamlgnevill.com/