This was my first attempt at reading an Adam Nevill novel, and what an introduction it was! It is clearly well researched into the psychology of cults and violent fundamentalism, and he truly understands the mentality behind those who join causes that seem completely irrational to outsiders (I should know, I grew up Mormon #notacult – the joy of the sarcastic hashtag).
Nevill pulls you in from the beginning. From a creepy encounter in an empty apartment building in London, Nevill takes the reader on a journey, following the cult of The Temple of the Last Days through the eyes and lens Guerilla filmmaker Kyle. The journey spans continents and decades and introduces us to some completely sad and sympathetic former cult members, and the suspense and genuine scares abound throughout.
Kyle and Dan are likeable characters, and I genuinely cared about their survival. There was not a particular amount of depth to them, but they were relatable in a way that not many victims of horror novels manage to be. Nevill also plays with the idea of evil, as everyone seems to be completely complicit in their own destruction, and while there is an overall antagonist in the form of Sister Katherine, the cult’s leader, no character is without blame or hubris.
It really was a great book, but I found myself left feeling a little ‘meh’ at the end. There was a fantastic crescendo as Kyle goes to see a painting in Antwerp which I felt could have been made more of, and as it’s right near the end the plot sort of dwindles from there. We have another character introduced in the last few pages who seemed rather unnecessary, and I felt that everything toward the end was a little rushed with no clear sense of what was happening, why it was happening or where it was going. The premise of the final showdown seemed a little contrived, rushed and unbelievable, and the ending I felt didn’t live up to the strength of the novel that had gone before. If it hadn’t been for the ending this would have been a five-star book. It was such a shame to end a novel of such abject terror on such an anti-climax.
For all fans of the horror genre, this novel is a must. It’s got all the chills and scares you could require, and a lot of things to think about as far as the human condition is concerned.