In some ways this book has proved a little bit of a disappointment. The first two-thirds is a highly impressive dark tale of a haunted house with a bloody history. Arriving at this seemingly innocuous, red bricked, low rental, house address 82 Edgehill Road Birmingham is Stephanie Booth. She recently split from her boyfriend Ryan and is now and attempting to live cheaply whilst working for a temping agency.
It soon becomes clear there is something evil and wrong within the walls of 82 Edgehill. Stephanie is concerned about voices and sounds she hears, dreams that impinge and bombard her sleep and the lives of fellow residents especially the mysterious and beautiful Margaret and Svetlana.....”she couldn’t be certain that what she had felt around her in that building amounted to more than fear, loneliness, despair and anger. Or cries for help. And those couldn’t harm you. Could they? Who were they? What were they? The idea that the suffering had continued for some time, and would always continue in the wretched building, was unbearable for her to ponder. She dared to wonder what she might be able to do for them – the trapped and the crying, the tormented. “..... Knacker McGuire, the landlord of this dreadful establishment, is an individual who is content to live from immoral earnings with the help of his deranged and somewhat disturbed cousin Fergal Donegal.
So at this point in the novel we have a lovely dark tale within a very haunted house and in the characters of Knacker and Fergal two of the cruellest and most frightening men of evil intent ever committed to paper by the pen of an author. It is genuinely unnerving with the setting and the characters creating an atmosphere that is at times tense and disturbing.....”Hold me, a voice said, I’m cold”. Stephanie closed her eyes tight. Either a young woman had spoken with her mouth a hair’s breath from her ear, or she’d heard the request inside her mind. Cold, invisible fingers remained attached to her wrist. And whatever was beside her slowly reclined upon the bed. The mattress gently gave to support a weight that could not be, and perhaps her eyes deceived her, or maybe the exposed bed sheet really did move. “Hold me. I’m so cold”. Staring at her trembling arm dumbstruck at her own compliance, Stephanie eased herself down to a freezing mattress that she now shared with something she could not see.”......
Now however rather than conclude or continue the strands in this chilling tale, for some unexplained reason the story moves location and the author leads the reader in an entirely different direction. This, in my opinion, makes the book overlong, and destroy the momentum and genuine fright appeal of 82 Edgehill Road.
Nevertheless Adam Nevill has the power to shock, has the power to unnerve and the ability to build and maintain a frighteningly good story and in the characters of Knacker McGuire and Fergal Donegal he has truly created two memorable and evil men. Unfortunately on page 407 when the rhythm is transformed by a shift in time and location the story’s appeal to me is greatly diminished and I find myself hoping the book will conclude soon (never a good sign for any reader!) This is a pity as Nevill is an author of outstanding credentials, his writing both intelligent and impeccably researched and his ideas and thoughts presented in a very readable manner.