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As stated in the official synopsis, this is a collection of speculative and supernatural horror. But, while the noted inspirations and muses are delicately obvious in each story, Nevill’s incredible prose and gift for imagery is his own. The stories in the Hasty for the Dark collection are a dark sensory experience of enigmatic horror. Nevill takes real world situations and science and pushes the envelope of speculation and reality.
Although I could easily wax eloquent on all of the stories in Hasty for the Dark, for brevity I shall highlight my personal favorites.
Angels of London presents as a dark thriller. You have a man navigating real world struggles, but his story becomes more and more ominous as it progresses, building to a gruesome and chilling conclusion. I found this one particularly moving due to the frightening realism throughout the story. I had to put the book down for a bit after finishing this one. It is, ultimately, my favorite of the collection.
Always in our Hearts gets a compulsory mention because the building tension was physically painful. It is a very well executed story. Very Edgar Allen Poe.
The Days of Our Lives was particularly mind scrambling for me. It presents an ominous opening and progresses with a slight Lovecraftian bent of nightmarish imagery and occurrences that illustrate real world domestic issues taken to an otherworldly level. Although I initially found the demonism of fetishism to be a bit unwarranted, I ultimately realized that any and all actions can fall to darkness through intention. My personal discomfort at the content and progression of the story is why it speaks to me so and why I count it as a favorite. Horror should make you uncomfortable in some way.
Finally, I must spotlight Hippocampus. Hippocampus is the stuff of classic literature. Nevill’s dark prose produces haunting, ghastly imagery in words that would actually be beautiful if read aloud. This particular story inspires me to want this collection in hard copy upon the shelf. It is masterfully done.
In conclusion I would have to say that this collection is beautiful. It defies the horror genre by presenting the horrific with flowing words and smooth tempos. Poe himself would be rendered sober by it.
5.0 out of 5 starsHASTY FOR THE DARK... the hub of the strange and weird
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 14, 2017
There is a reason why Adam Nevill is a recipient of many consecutive awards for best novel and best collection of contemporary horror. Simply because, his craft is an accomplished work of art on all levels: tales of the strange and weird arising from the familiar, characters featuring from different pockets of life, confronting fears, desires, anxieties in an extraordinary situations. This astonishing talent of his to induce sheer fear and unease in the readers is always something to praise, especially when it is delivered in the author's particular brilliant style, his beautiful prose and unique descriptions. Such talent brings us this time nine dark stories collected in a new book HASTY FOR THE DARK.
Like the precedent collection, HASTY FOR THE DARK is a good twisted treat to all horror fans and readers who appreciate odd tales and fine scares of the dark world of Adam Nevill. And like H.P Lovecraft says, the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown, these stories are speculative and mysterious, where the characters try to subdue desperate situations, frustration and desolate existence yet they stand unable to escape the foreshadowing doom. HASTY FOR THE DARK summoned ordinary situations turned bad, characters unwittingly drawn to obscure places, domestic conflicts built on sadism, abhor and blood, manifestations of cosmic horror and alien deity, memories of a killer projected in the minds of a very normal couple, and a weird cult called the Movement.
The beginning is ON ALL LONDON UNDERGROUND LINES ; Adam takes us to an episode in hell, where his protagonist and his readers found themselves trapped in a maddening interval of time and space with no exit. Having been to London many times, unfortunately, I have witnessed few delays, once on the Piccadilly line while going to the airport to catch a flight back home. The futility and dread that I felt fearing that I would miss my flight brought me to the edge of an emotional distress and inner desire to scream. And Adam described it, the horror is real, the faces are frozen facial exasperation, the tension is contagious, masses of heads continue to flow, stand there waiting and waiting. A platform in hell. This fear of entrapment in time and place, powerlessness to leave or change the situation, the dark shadows from tunnels. What if you get entrapped here forever? The imagery of the place and commuters is decayed and weathered, reminiscent of old bad nightmare.
THE ANGELS OF LONDON is the second story taking residence in London where old horrors are conjured up, those of rented places and shady landlords. A cross reference to Adam’s novel NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, this story features Frank the unfortunate tenant, down on his luck, in a rented room above a derelict bar in London. Frank's frustration is presque universal, related to everyone experiencing rental crises of inappropriate accommodation or greedy dishonest landlords. So, when his landlord, the ever shifty Granby, asked for a rent increase, Frank loses his temper and makes a terrible mistake of infuriating the cryptic family that actually owns the place, scary people or maybe inhuman entities or creatures no one wants to meet, less alone to mess with. Like in NOGOA, when poverty and bad luck meet, only bad choices and desperate solutions are taken and Frank is no different. In his worst moment, he will use some very unusual ways to survive. The visual of the miserable backdrop, of the despair of residents damned by time and space, of the monstrous family of Granby amplify the sense of the foreboding and dread.
In ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS, the journey stops in Birmingham where the protagonist Ray picks up some strange passengers and drive them to their odd destinations. The story opens up with a set of anxieties concerning potential accidents and dangers risen from one being on the road and a hideous secret. With the story goes on, the reader becomes extremely curious about the peculiar passengers, the bizarre behaviour they exhibit, the peculiar bags each one carries with some kind of animal moving inside, all this is dissected and observed through the eyes of Ray. These trips stretch along the night and Ray will learn at the last fare the hard lesson and the nasty payback. An intense yet ambiguous cliffhanger is left to the reader to decide on.
There are four tribute stories in HASTY FOR THE DARK. The first is EUMENIDES (THE BENEVOLENT LADIES) which is written as an homage to the British writer Robert Aickman. It is a shame that I haven't read yet Aickman, but only read some reviews of his short stories to know that his work chiefly involves uncanny situations, dark places, mysterious women, and ambiguous end. In this story, those elements exist but it is the soul and the dark shadow of Adam Nevill who hovers in each paragraph of it. Jason, a soul tortured by the mediocrity of life and dull existence in Sully-upon-Trent, finds a solace in his obsession with his colleague, the beautiful mysterious Electra. So when she accepted his invitation to go out, she suggested the Sullet abandoned zoo with a very bad history . The eerie atmosphere of forlornness and abandonment engulf the derelict zoo and there the sexual tension and attraction Jason felt to Electra will quickly be subdued by perplex and fear. The description of dilapidated cages, the invasion of bracken and encroaching trees, the foggy shrouds, the evasive Electra increase the bad omen that forebodes this date will not end well.
THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES , as the author describes it in his notes, is the oddest. It revolves around the weird dysfunctional relationship between a couple. Hatred and perversion with a twisted desire to kill only define the household of the two protagonists in THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES. The story is told by the submissive male who found himself tangled and trapped in a marriage signed in hell after he received a parcel of an old watch delivered mistakenly to his address. His wife is the monstrous and sadistic Lois, who is apparently a prominent figure of the Movement, the bizarre cult that makes its first apparition in this story. In THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES, the grotesque subtly shows its face through surreal visuals and disturbing behaviour and leaves a ” weird” taste in mouth. The portrait of a psychopath is sketched here. This story is reminiscent of the dark rooms of NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE and the victims buried underneath. The notorious ML Hazzard, the cross-dressing traveler from the grey lands, is delightfully mentioned in the sphere of this story.
In HIPPOCAMPUS, Adam opts a different approach, a story, acted as a found footage with no characters. In my opinion, I find this kind of stories very challenging to grip and maintain the reader's interest keeping up with descriptions and details. And Adam never fails to amaze. In this abandoned freighter sailing across the inky water of the sea, the “footage” introduces the massive bulk vessel before going inside and dissects its creepy compartments. The tension and dread increase with every found image and left object until a climax is reached. But what makes this story even scarier is the forthcoming danger getting closer to the shores. Beautifully crafted, HIPPOCAMPUS also stands as a lyrical piece of writing to enjoy.
The second tribute story is CALL THE NAME. The Lovecraftian mythos visit the futuristic world of Adam Nevill. Cthulhu is called by Earth after humans destroyed it and exhausted its sources. Set in the time of LOST GIRL, CALL THE NAME is the longest story in the collection told by Cleo, a septuagenarian scientist who suffers from dementia. Cleo and her forebears knew that the old one, the harrowing visitor, residing in the deep see, has half-opened its scary eye after being stirred from its slumber and "fatally roused" by our careless behaviour and stupid arrogance towards the Earth. Very detailed accounts of human atrocities of drying out Earth resources, changing its climate, altering its natural balance in addition to the accounts about geological ages, cull of prehistoric creatures, erosion, earthquakes, all act as bleak images the reader had saw in LOST GIRL. These images come to revive an unsettling fear about the bleak future that awaits us if we continue in our destruction to our surroundings. The aesthetic visual are present in the meticulous description of the maritime world along the coastal paths and coves, etc. Those scientific facts, if I can say, are told with a riveting prose without having the tedious effect and grey dullness of realism, all this reflects the gripping writing style that Adam has. The lovecraftian fear from the unknown anticipates a dreadful unfathomable end. Together, the reader and Cleo pray that her visions and those hideous calls were only a product of her dementia but the church, One Eye Opening and Kudas will only add hysteria and confusion to what one should believe. The surreal imagery flows smoothly along the mysterious sea and its eerie coves.
WHITE LIGHT, WHITE HEAT is the third tribute story, written in the vein of British writer, Mark Samuel whom, unfortunately, I haven't heard of until I came across this gem. In WHITE LIGHT, WHITE HEAT, the author echoes a true ugly image of the distorted modern society we struggle to live in. The author explains in his notes that he used a window in this story to vent about his “ own unfortunate episodes in publishing” and themes of social injustice, modern slavery, callousness of inhuman species called executives come in abundance. In result, we, the ones who live by, will suffer the fatal effects of frustration, depression and self mutilation. Thus, the reader feels with the protagonist this resentment, an inner rage and desire to change and revenge against a soulless cannibalizing establishment of executives driven by greed and sadism. The only hope the protagonist lingers to is that unearthly Reliquary of Light he keeps hidden in a wooden box in his room. But when you take from people their only hope, the outcome won’t be pleasant at all and the protagonist rage will be demented. The espoused tone is sarcastic, cynical and very surreal. The visual of grotesque immerse from the infuriating mediocrity and hideous side of our human nature.
The ninth story LITTLE BLACK LAMB is an homage to another British writer, a pillar in the contemporary horror, Ramsey Campbell. It is THE OVERNIGHT that introduced me to Campbell’s world of subtle horror and dread emerging from familiar situations, told with a specific black humour. And Adam delivers this unsettling atmosphere of a daily bleak situation but with his very unique way. In LITTLE BLACK LAMB, an elderly couple start suddenly receiving memories and images which are not their own. Pictures of old forlorn places, overgrown clearing, old abandoned houses, doused in dark bizarre feelings and overwhelming nasty emotions. These visual occurrences will lead each of them on different paths and to a very scary places in minds. The reaction of one person will continuously shock the other when that person's behaviour disturbingly alters, mainly, when the Movement invades their once ordinary life. Disturbing and elusive, this enigma only gets scarier and more shocking.
In HASTY FOR THE DARK, Adam Nevill carries you on a journey of nine unforgettable stops. In each one, there is a bizarre place to visit, an odd incident to discover, a disturbing sensation to overcome. It is the hub of the strange and weird every horror aficionado should explore. Needless to say that Adam proves again that he has this natural ability to mess with the reader’s mind for the line between his fiction and reality becomes blurry. It is a not a mere story you read, it is an incident and situation you live.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 15, 2018
I'm a huge Adam Nevill fan. He and Thomas Ligotti are the only two horror writers out there today who manage to create any sense of fear and unsettling horror, as far as I'm concerned. His novels are generally superb, so when I saw a collection of his short stories advertised, I had to get it. And it's terrific. Every twisted thing you'd come to expect from a writer with a genuinely nightmarish imagination. I've never been scared by a Steven King story, so I find it sad to see Adam Nevill described as Britain's answer to him. Surely he's Britain's answer to Thomas Ligotti! Or more accurately, Britain's answer to Adam Nevill. After reading this, I bought his other collection too.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 31, 2017
i Love this time of year, and the reappearance of Adam Nevill, like a spectre, dark nights, and clocks turning back and a book of great compelling tales, so so original..i could not imagine any one of them before hand, and cant rid my minds eye of them after. All so different, i enjoyed every one of the 9, my favorites, i touched base firstly with London and 2 dark gritty tales, very haunting, next my imagination sailed such darkness in "Hippocampus," i thought deeply and profoundly about the future in "Call my name" and creeped at " The days of our lives."...simply my favourite horror writer, thanks Adam, i highly recommend a read. Also enjoyed Adams synopis of each tale, speard a bit of darkness on them all
The literary genius of Nevill’s work has never been more prevalent than in this collection of short, immensely satisfying stories. Each chapter is horrifyingly unique, conjuring up creatures from the darkest depths of the author’s imagination & leaving the reader sated but breathless in the aftermath of such a blood-curdling ride. I can’t get enough of this writer’s work & look forward to the next read, just as soon as I’ve checked under the bed for monsters!