Adam Nevill’s Last Days came highly recommended by fellow horror aficionados, so it was an obvious choice for my first horror review. Nevill’s other works are, perhaps, more well-known, but Last Days has a bit of a cult following (pardon the pun) and promises an unsettling and dizzying experience that will stick with readers long after they turn the last page. The book starts strong by setting a tone of urgency and introducing its three main characters right off the bat.

We have the main character, Kyle, a documentary filmmaker looking to make a career-defining film. Kyle’s right-hand man, Dan, is a brilliant cinematographer with a less-than-illustrious career taking wedding videos. We meet Max, the owner of a film studio who wants to branch out into guerrilla filmmaking by producing a documentary about a long-dead cult. Nevill provides the necessary exposition both quickly and painlessly by having Max explain the importance of creating the film quickly and giving us a rundown of the film’s shooting schedule. This gets the boring, sort of administrative stuff out of the way early and allows us to settle right in and prepare to be properly horrified.


The first third of this Last Days goes by very quickly and seamlessly. Kyle and Dan interview former cult members in creepy locales and are treated to some inexplicable phenomena and gruesome imagery. The horror here seems to come organically which is hard to do in a book that is, essentially, a blow-by-blow of the creation of a documentary about, well, horror. The descriptions are rich and detailed enough to give readers a good idea of what Kyle and Dan are being subjected to, but just vague enough to force the imagination to fill in the gaps with whatever horrors lurk in our minds.

Nevill also gives us a good mix of the tangible and the abstract which allows us to wonder how much of it is real and how much might be imagined by the characters. We see a bed full of snakes and a ghastly figure burned into a wall. We see sulphuric smog and hear the barking of imaginary dogs. It’s enough to make readers question the sanity of everyone in the book and the reliability of the narrator.

It’s during the middle of the book that things begin to lag. Nevill switches from short, fast-paced scenes to long, drawn-out monologues and repetitive explanations. The horror here seems to be sandwiched between overly detailed bits of unnecessary exposition to the point that when something truly scary happens, we are too bored to truly appreciate it. It is also here that the plot becomes extremely overly complicated and convoluted.

The book goes from having us question what was and wasn’t real during the run of this bizarre cult to trying to follow a harebrained scheme that revolves around Freddy Kreuger-esque nightmare monsters and reincarnation. While I understand that the intention here was probably to force the reader to spiral into insanity with the main characters, it all just felt very forced by the end and I found myself less afraid by the end and more exasperated.


All in all, Last Days isn’t a bad read, per se, but does get a bit bogged down in exposition and isn’t something I’d recommend if you’re looking for something that truly keep-you-up-at-night scary.

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