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piiskoor

Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

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Last Days - Adam Nevill Full review at http://www.bookgasm.com/reviews/horror/last-days-2/#more-23107--

We’ve learned a few valuable lessons from the last 50 years of horror fiction and film:
• When your group enters a strange space and someone hears a strange, unlocatable noise, don’t split up to investigate.
• If an older, wealthy individual hires you to do a task, be aware that the elderly gentleman is no innocent and that the task will spell your doom.
• A camera left on and unattended in a scary house will produce excellent evidence of horrific things. (Also: That film will be seen by the protagonists, but then somehow irretrievably destroyed.)


There is a comfort to these touchpoints, generic stations of the cross that work on fans like the slow, crank-rattling ascent on a roller coaster: Knowing what’s coming can provoke delicious anticipation. The drawback is a dulling of the senses, a reduction of the form into nothing but a sequence of jump-scares — a dwindling of dread into the lesser impact of spectacle.

Adam Nevill’s LAST DAYS locks you into a familiar ride, but there’s an expert craftwork to the dips and turns that relies upon — and, for much of the route, enhances — the reader’s expectations.

Independent documentarian Kyle Freeman is hired to investigate the spaces where the Manson-like Temple of the Last Days evolved from fringe ’60s commune to apocalyptic cult. The last of the cult’s members — those fortunate enough to escape the murders that shuttered the “temple” for good — are dying off with mysterious rapidity, and businessman Max Solomon wants Kyle and his skeleton crew to rush into production.

Solomon initially makes Kyle think “of a small clever monkey with glittering eyes,” “[a] primate rising to its hind legs, dressed in Paul Smith.” (You’d think that the monkey thing would be enough to send Freeman packing, never mind the rule about wealthy investors noted above. But no.) It’s a great image, one of many found throughout the novel.