I was first introduced to Adam Nevill’s writing around 2012 right after his novel The Ritual came out. About a third of the way through the book I realized the book was going to be something I enjoyed. By the end it was easily within the list of my favorite books of all time. After finishing The Ritual I read anything by Nevill that I could get my hands on and found he writes the exact type of horror that I like to read; dark, gritty, unsettling and intense. While I like all of his work, my favorites other that The Ritual are Last Days, No One Gets Out Alive and Lost Girl.
For me his new novel The Reddening fits easily into this group, possibly moving into the top slot just behind The Ritual. Yes, it’s that good.
The story revolves around a series of disappearances and possible suicides in a region of England, especially near an area known as the Brickburg Caves. The caves become an archaeological dig site where it appears ritual killing and sacrifices may have happened in the past. A journalist named Katrine and a woman investigating the death of her brother named Helene both realize that atrocities of the past were not quite human and do not live merely in the past. Once the story is set up, the pace of the book takes off and pulls you through the story to the gory end.
The plot is fantastic and as always Nevill’s characters are well rounded and fit perfectly within the story. However, for me, as with The Ritual, what makes this book stand out and make the leap from ‘good’ to ‘very good’ is the setting and the descriptions in general. I’ve never been to Devon, England and would be hard pressed to even point it out on a map, but Nevill’s descriptions of the area are impeccable and set up the atmosphere of the night right from the very first sentence. His descriptions of the area in and around the harrowing Redstone Farm are equal parts beautiful and dreadful. Nevill’s ability to set a mood and maintain that mood throughout a novel is what sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. It doesn’t take long to figure out you’re reading a Nevill book based solely on the descriptions of the setting and characters.
Though it’s not something I usually do when I write reviews, I can’t talk about this book without talking about the physical book itself. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the limited edition hardcover edition of the book and it is exquisite. As I said I don’t usually review the actual book, but this is too good not to mention, if there’s any way to get your hands on it, I highly recommend it. The book itself is slightly smaller than a usual hardcover, but I think that is one of the biggest positives of this edition. It’s fits in my hand a little better and still feels like a hardcover book. The cover art is fantastic with the ominous red face staring back at you from the otherwise black page. The pages are also obviously high quality and it feels as though you’re reading an important book with each turn of the page.
You are reading an important book when you pick up The Reddening because, as someone who’s read many of the horror novels to come out in 2019 I think this is right up there near the top and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear if this one is nominated for or even wins for best novel of the year for 2019. Easily a strong 5/5 on this one.
This book drops TOMORROW on Halloween so check it out wherever books are sold!