Thursday, 7 November 2013

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: House of Small Shadows - Adam Nevill

Release Date: 10/10/13
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan


Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top television production company saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and now things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself -- to catalogue the late M H Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting scenes from World War I. When Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at the Red House itself, where she maintains the collection, Catherine can't believe her luck. Until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's 'Art'. Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but M H Mason's damaged visions raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped had finally been erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge. And some truths seem too terrible to be real ...


To be honest Adam Nevill is an author who exploded onto the writing scene a few years ago and for me, it was his wonderful prose that was almost poetic that really attracted my attention. I loved the way he could take you on a story into the unknown weaving it full of description that really helped the reader visualise what he was talking about and then also gave you something that was hard to put down.

Yet as the books have come out that’s changed, it feels that he’s gone for a more simplistic way of bringing the story to the fore and for me, that’s where the lustre starts to fall off. I love the old style of creatures and monsters where you don’t see the true villain, that allows the readers imagination to scare them a lot more than presenting it in all its technicolour glory.

Its this where Adam’s more recent books have failed and for me, it’s the human monster (such as the one portrayed in Adam’s short story, Florrie) that really makes my skin crawl. So when I heard about this tale, I was hoping that it would be a chance to get to see something pretty unique as his own take on the creepy aspect of taxidermy. It didn’t strike fear into me, it didn’t keep me interested and to be honest a lot of it felt like filler rather than getting to the nitty gritty which for me might have worked a lot better as a short story rather than a fully extended novel.

Add to this a bizarre story that wasn’t easily understood, snippets that felt like they’ve just been cut from previous titles alongside a story that felt dumbed down as well as ridiculous. All round left me feeling extremely cheated. I’ll keep reading his work in the vain hope of his return to the earlier style of prose but one more release like this and I will consider leaving him for quite some time. A great shame.

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