Adam Nevill first came to my attention when I reviewed Banquet for the Damned, a chilling tale of the supernatural which reminded me of the old style writing of the likes of MR James and Edgar Allen Poe. I was therefore interested to see what Apartment 16 would offer.
I was not disappointed. Adam takes the writing style used in Banquet for the Damned, but takes it up a notch. This time, whilst there are still shades of James and Poe, these have been blended with the more modern style of writers such as Stephen King. If you enjoyed the haunting of Jack within the hotel in The Shining, then you’ll appreciate the story of Seth. It’s less subtle, but it works.
So to the story – the book is based around Barrington House, an apartment block in London, which is mainly now home to elderly residents. One of these residents dies, and leaves her apartment to her remaining family, who live in America, and have lost touch with Lillian.
Apryl comes over to London to see the apartment, and make all the necessary arrangements. She’s captivated by the life that her Great Aunt lived, but soon realises that there is something wrong in the Apartment, and indeed in Barrington House as a whole.
Our other main character is Seth, a night porter at Barrington. Seth is a troubled soul, who soon realises that the heart of the problem lies in Apartment 16, and is unfortunately soon under it’s chilling influence.
There is a contrast between these two experiences. Through Apryl we experience a subtle ‘haunted house’ effect, with images in her peripheral vision, and in mirrors. The effects of the apartment are soon felt, and she’s determined to find out more.
Seth experiences a far more dramatic change, as he becomes influenced by the powers in Barrington House. They enter his dreams first, and then his waking life – and through this Adam manages to paint an extremely bleak view of life in London.
These contrasting experiences did jar a little when I first came across them. I personally preferred Apryl’s story more at the beginning, and found the shift into Seth’s perspective difficult at first. However, once I settled into it, the story flowed better, and it was soon hard to put it down.
If you’re looking for something a little different in the horror genre, which doesn’t try to rely on gore, sex and shocks, then this is highly recommended. The blend of styles is an interesting one, and once the book settles down, it has a lot to offer.