Adam Nevill is a British novelist. His first novel, Banquet for the Damned, was published in 2004. Since then, he has written and published seven additional novels as well as two collections of novellas/short stories. He has been hailed as “Britain’s answer to Stephen King,” which I believe is an unfortunate label to receive. If anything, I believe he has more in common with Lovecraft and the weird tale for which that author was famous. The only apt comparison to King would be that both have founded their careers, all or in part, in the writing of horror and imaginative fiction.
As is the case with any writer worth his or her salt, Nevill has his own voice, his own style. While he may not be as obsessive as King in his creation of fully fleshed-out characters, Nevill does devote equal effort to story and plotting. Granted, I have only read two of Nevill’s works, The Ritual and Last Days, but each had me engrossed within the first few pages.
I’m always skeptical of the common marketing ploy of likening one thing to another—particularly when it comes to authors. To me, it feels as if doing so, in some way, diminishes the voice and identity of the one receiving the comparison. There is only one Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gillian Flynn, James Patterson, Tolkien, or Terry Brooks. Moreover, while I’m still a fan of King’s, one must be honest in declaring that, for the most part, King’s best stories are behind him. There have been only a handful of titles post-It that merit an approximate level of the acclaim deserving of that novel and the many that came before—e.g., The Stand, The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Talisman (with Peter Straub), The Mist (a novella), ‘Salem’s Lot, The Dead Zone, Different Seasons, and The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. After It, King’s work has been largely hit and miss.
Here, it is neither fair nor accurate to assert one author is better than the other. It’s important that readers recognize that authors’ works are distinct unto themselves and reflect the unique imaginations of their creators.
As for the two novels by Nevill I have experienced, Last Days is probably the better of the two. The suspense and mystery ratchets with each page turned. As with many others who have read it, I agree that The Ritual is a tale of two tales, the first half being the strongest (by the way, you can find on Netflix a fairly faithful adaptation of The Ritual—although the second half, while maintaining the spirit of the novel, diverges greatly in the details). Nevill wants to tell an engaging story and uses those tools at a writer’s disposal to do just that. I am looking forward to exploring more of his work in the future. We are seeing a resurgence in interest in the horror genre, especially in the many titles that have begun to appear anew as homages to or influenced by the weird tale as made famous by Lovecraft and his circle of contemporaries. With that said, I hope you will join me in future discussions about the imaginative works from the likes of Jeff Vandermeer and his Southern Reach trilogy, Robert Chamber’s The King in Yellow, specific works from Thomas Ligotti, as well as the legacy of works from such masters of weird fiction as Arthur Machen, Richard Matheson, Lord Dunsany, Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood, and Clark Ashton Smith, to name a few. And of course—H.P. Lovecraft himself.