First published back in May of 2010, ‘Apartment 16’ formed the second full-length novel for British horror author Adam Nevill.

DLS Synopsis:

When twenty-eight-year-old Apryl Beckford’s Great-aunt Lillian died, Apryl and her mother were informed that they had been left her entire estate.  Because she had drifted away from her family over the years, neither Apryl nor her mother knew much about Lillian or her life.  And when Apryl travels over from the US to London in order to find out what her Great-aunt had bequeathed to them, she finds herself taken aback by how much they have inherited.

Located in an exclusive niche of London, Barrington House is a portered apartment building for the wealthy.  An inner-city retreat for those who can afford its luxurious residence.  An apartment in Knightsbridge where Lillian spent the last potion of her life.  An apartment which she hid herself away in.  Where her husband died.  And it was somewhere where for the past few decades she had barely travelled more than a few blocks away from.

However, upon arriving at Barrington House, what Apryl finds when she looks around her Great-aunt’s old apartment is the heart-wrenching remnants of a solitary and lonely existence.  Just from looking around the tired old apartment, it is clear that the two people who had once lived there should never have parted.  The place was in mourning from the widow spending her final years heartbroken.  Her tired and fragile mind turned mad with a grief that never eased.

And now, having seen the insides of her great-aunt’s apartment and having read the terrified scribblings within her numerous diaries, Apryl knows she has to do whatever it will take to find out more about her.

But there is something dark lingering in the time-forgotten walls of Barrington House.  Lillian’s diaries spoke of having been trapped.  Of not being able to leave the area surrounding Barrington House.  And the increasingly frantic passages blamed one man for their pain and misery.  A painter and fascist who was once a resident of the building.  A man named Felix Hessen who had been obsessed with the occult.  A lithesome man who had disappeared in the late forties.  And ever since then, Lillian and her once close friends had been trapped in their own solitary hell.

No one was permitted to go inside apartment sixteen.  For the last fifty-years the door to the unoccupied apartment had remained closed.  It had once been the apartment for Felix Hessen. But now, behind the closed door of number sixteen, something was coming through…

DLS Review:

Adam Nevill is one of those authors who has an unnerving knack at getting under the reader’s skin.  In fact, his prose is so effective at creating a chilling atmosphere, taut with nerve-jangling suspense and imminent danger, that it’s hard not to become completely swallowed up in the growing nightmare that he has unleashed.

‘Apartment 16’ is what I would class as a purposeful slow-burner.  That’s not to say it’s slow-paced or anything close to that.  Instead what Nevill does is spend time carefully laying down the foundations for a maliciously-dark supernatural horror novel on a mission to scare the living hell out of you.

Initially the novel feels somewhat formulaic and traditional in what seems to be its ‘haunted apartment’ direction.  However, don’t be lulled into thinking that Nevill plays by all the run-of-the-mill horror story rules.  Far from it.  Instead, after a mere handful of plot assembling chapters, Nevill begins to set in play a supernatural horror story that seems to blend Lovecraft with Clive Barker, topped-off with an Edward Lee-esque intensity ala ‘The Chosen’ (1993).

The darkness, the near poetic horror of Nevill’s prose, the intensity of the threat, all combined together makes for one hell of an oppressively intense tale.  And alongside this the reader is subjected to a constant and inescapable feeling of unending entrapment and bitter isolation.

If you liked where Stephen King was going with ‘The Shining’ (1977) then you’re going to frigging love ‘Apartment 16’.  It’s got those nightmarish elements that just linger in your mind for hours after the lights have gone out.  That feeling of something utterly terrifying lurking within the fabric of the building.  Something that has a purpose which simply scares the hell out of you.

It’s got so much true-horror-blood running through its literary veins that it quite effortlessly draws any horror-loving fan in within seconds.  However, brandishing a plot line that’s so well-formed and tightly woven makes the novel that much more accessible and enticing for readers outside the immediate stretch of the horror genre.  Indeed, it does just what King’s ‘The Shining’ (1977) did.  It hurdles those (often so unhelpful) genre tags, and draws in an audience from elsewhere, and yet still without betraying its roots.

Character-wise, Nevill has a strong hand to play.  Apryl is instantly likeable, and has a toughness to her which rides the storyline well.  However, outside of Apryl is where the interesting characters ultimately lie.  And none are more intriguing than that of the thirty-one-year-old artist-cum-night-porter, Seth.  Here we have a complex character that’s built up of carefully established layers, to ultimately bring to life an individual who weaves his very own impactful place within the tale.

All in all, if you like your horror novels bursting at the seams with tension alongside teeth-grinding suspense; if you like them swimming in a murky water of visceral horror and ripping at your face with barrages of the supernatural gore; and if you like them lingering in your mind at night as the world around you settles down in the all-encompassing blanket of darkness – then you’ve come to the right place.  ‘Apartment 16’ is everything a nightmare promises to be.  It’s dark, it’s unnerving, and it exploits our inherent fears for all they’re worth.

If you want the shit scared out of you – then pick up this book.

The novel runs for a total of 449 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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