Book Review: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill


Title: The House of Small Shadows

Author: Adam Nevill

Release date: October 10th, 2013

It’s interesting, at least to me, when you start to dive into an author’s back catalog, only to find out the book you’re reading came further into their career than you initially thought.

Adam Nevill is an author that has easier cemented himself in my favorite author upper levels. I have A favorite and then there are a few who sit just behind that favorite. Adam is one of them. Adam’s an author that you know will bludgeon you with a metric ton of fear after slowly crawling his way under your skin in the lead up.

Having read all but two of his novels (Banquet for the Damned and Under a Watchful Eye), I can safely say Adam is in a league of his own when creating his terrors and he does it so very beautifully.

Adam is also partially to blame for my Amazon review banning – my review of Lost Girl got flagged and in my review of No One Gets Out Alive, I mentioned that we’d developed a digital friendship (which was two of the issues Amazon Customer Service brought up when I talked to them! Ha!) – but, I hold no ill-will towards him. In fact, I’m totally fine not leaving reviews on Amazon, because then I can say something like this in a review.

This book was goddamned fucking creepy. Jesus Christ, Adam.

What I liked: The novel follows Catherine, a woman who had an interesting childhood – her friend disappeared – and hasn’t had the best run of luck. A miscarriage, a failed relationship and losing her job. But now, she’s at a new job and has seemingly found her place, where she can thrive.

All seems well, that is, until her boss sends her to a potential new client’s home, to evaluate the collection of rare dolls for auction.

This is where the story really kicks off and where Nevill lands in his wheelhouse. When you consider this novel came a few years after Apartment 16, was directly after Last Days and directly before No One Gets Out Alive, it’s safe to say, Nevill had found a dark room somewhere in his mind that was darker than anyone else’s. If he had a ‘For Rent’ sign outside of a flat he owned – DON’T RENT IT FOR FUCK SAKES!

The first I’d say 65% of this novel is a slow, dredge through creep town. We get some hideously delicious scenes with rat tableaus and dolls in bassinettes and a town that may or may not be abandoned. We get odd noises, a strange care aide and possibly the rudest character to ever be put down in a novel.

The last 35% is like a rocket through Pandemonium. We get transformations, a veil lifted and the horrible truth over what is really going on revealed. Nevill doesn’t hold back and for that we’re all the better – or worser, depending on how much you can palate.

What I didn’t like: I’m hit or miss on slow burns. Nevill does it masterfully, but this one does take it’s time to really get going. Much like No One Gets Out Alive (though have the page count of that book), if you stay the course, you’ll be richly rewarded.

Why you should buy this: Nevill does creepy like nobody else, and he has these little Nevill-isms about how he describes certain things that just resonate and vibrate through your bones. This one features a description of a filmed play/scene that will completely unnerve you – and that’s only if you get beyond the descriptions of the rat tableau’s. Fingers crossed we one day get a special edition of this one with illustrations. Or maybe we’d be better off if we don’t?


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