BOOK REVIEW: NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE / AUTHOR: ADAM NEVILL / PUBLISHER: PAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Adam Nevill’s sixth novel is a powerful descent into one woman’s personal hell, and looks certain to cement Nevill’s growing reputation as one of Britain’s foremost horror novelists. Nevill first made his mark with Apartment 16 back in 2010; since then he has combined terror with potent social commentary in books like The Ritual and Last Days. Nevill returns to similar themes in No One Gets Out Alive and the result is every bit as disturbing - and plausible.
After a break-up with her boyfriend, cash-strapped Stephanie takes a cheap room in a shared house owned by the Rachman-like Knacker McGuire. Pretty soon, Stephanie realises that something is badly amiss: voices whisper from behind the fireplace, scratching noises can be heard under Stephanie’s bed, and the girl in the room opposite is the victim of a shadowy sexual predator who haunts Stephanie’s dreams night after night. Things go from bad to worse when Knacker McGuire’s degenerate cousin, Fergal, arrives at the house and starts to takes a sordid interest in Stephanie.
Is Stephanie genuinely experiencing the paranormal? Or is she having some kind of psychotic episode brought on by her increasing sense of isolation and desperation? Or is there an even more disturbing explanation for the strange events taking place at 82 Edgehill Road. In No One Gets Out Alive, Nevill keeps you guessing, loading his story with essential ambiguities – supernatural and psychological horror is combined to unsettling effect. Ultimately, Nevill shows us that grim reality may well be the greatest horror of all.
Apartment 16 was the break-out chiller that showed as much an au fait with Argento and Fulci as it did with Lovecraft and Stephen King. Nevill revealed the social inequalities of contemporary London as a kind of hell that opens its gates to swallow up the nation’s unsuspecting young. Likewise, No One Gets Out Alive underlines the current economic precarity that makes victims of the young and desperate. Reminiscent of films like Mum and Dad and The Seasoning House, and drawing on the true life crimes of Josef Fritzl, but with a supernatural twist, No One Gets Out Alive is all the more unsettling precisely because the kind of “horror house” that Stephanie finds herself trapped inside might just exist. It’s a bleak novel, for sure, but one that’s frighteningly relevant and all the more compelling for it.
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