Apartment 16 Paperback
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"Superbly written." --"Suspense" Magazine
"Britain's answer to Stephen King." --the "Guardian"
"Superbly written." "Suspense" Magazine"
"Britain's answer to Stephen King." the "Guardian""
"Superbly written." Suspense Magazine"
"Britain's answer to Stephen King." the Guardian" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Adam Nevill was born in England, in 1969 and grew up in England and New Zealand. He is the author of five novels of supernatural horror: Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, The Ritual, Last Days and House of Small Shadows. He lives in Birmingham and can be contacted through www.adamlgnevill.com. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In many ways a good haunted house story is much like a murder mystery with overt elements of the supernatural stirred into the concoction and Adam Nevil pours the enigmas into his haunted house novel, Apartment 16 (2010). To call Apartment 16 a haunted house novel, however, does the work a disservice because like Stephen King’s The Shining (1977) Nevill gives readers a haunted complex—in this case Barrington House, filled with forty, once upscale apartments spread through two blocks, in the fashionable area of London, Knightsbridge; a place that is “classic, flawless, and effortlessly exuded the sense of a long history.”
Nevill’s story focuses mostly upon a small number of major characters. Foremost is twenty-eight year old Apryl Beckford who has traveled from America on her mother’s behalf to empty out and sell Apartment 39—bequeathed to Apryl and her mother from Apryl’s eighty-four year old deceased aunt, Lillian. Lillian: a widow who has never left her apartment for years in which “everything inside was ancient and faded and dusty,” who has never thrown away a thing and kept her drapes sewn shut; a woman whose “mental health hadn’t been good for a long time.” Instead of spending two weeks in London as planned, Apryl decides to “know everything there was to know about her great-aunt,” especially after discovering volumes of handwritten diaries which chronicle wild, incredible events… a woman increasingly fearing for her sanity—if not worse.
Also of key interest is one of the young night porters at Barrington House, thirty-one year old would-be artist Seth “with two arts degrees to his name” driven by “desperation” to work at Barrington House and kept there by “despair.”
Like a spider spinning its web around its victim, Nevill ensnares his reader quickly within the pages of Apartment 19 through the use of vivid and copious details and multiple, vague, little revelations of things that simply don’t feel right, all of which have an air of the inexplicable to them. Adding to the discoveries Apryl makes among the piles of what otherwise appear to be trash and the sensation that there is something else in the apartment other than that trash—flashes of things that cannot be clearly perceived, often streaks of red, out of the corner of her eye as well as her curiosity about her great-aunt’s death begins to become an obsession. Her captivation grows after reading about a mysterious figure referenced in her great-aunt’s diaries. Nevill ups the suspense when Apryl learns there are three people still living at Barrington House all of whom knew both Lillian and the man who, with each volume, takes on a greater significance in Lillian’s diaries but the three all are resolute: they refuse to speak to Apryl about what they know and how her great-aunt died.
Nevil skillfully also surrounds Seth in an increasing dense fog of the unknown as a youthful, hooded character who usually clings to the shadows and whom no one else apparently can see or hear starts to appear to Seth, speaking to him about his future—a future that the youth—who Seth begins to think of as an ever present sentinel of sorts linked to Apartment 16—conveys to Seth includes he will begin to see things no one else can. More baffling, Seth’s fate appears to be tied to the dead man in Lillian’s diaries. As chapter after chapter flashes by, readers frighteningly realize that Seth’s character, personality, and perhaps his very grasp upon sanity is changing—and not to the better.
Suspense and the chilling atmosphere created by the author pull the reader through increasingly bizarre events and scenarios in Apartment 16. Through his accomplished and carefully laid out prose and plotting, Nevil frequently creates scenes that produce an alarming sensation of choking claustrophobia.
As times passes, it becomes clear that Apryl and Seth are not the sole focus of Apartment 16, but that there is a greater, evil figure behind the devastation of some of the lives in Barrington House—at least those that have not fled the facility: the presence of a deceased, “obscure European artist… and not a very wholesome one at that,” Felix Hessen. Most of his surreal, abstract, nightmarish art has disappeared and little is known about him. Hessen: a man who dabbled in the occult and came to believe that there is more than one world on earth and that other world is beyond hellish.
Readers familiar with them are likely to recall two episodes from TV’s Thriller (hosted by the late Boris Karloff): “The Prisoner in the Mirror” and “The Hungry Glass” (1961) as well as Richard Matheson’s Hell House (1971) as Apryl and Seth’s lives transform and the two head toward a petrifying, aberrant collision with each other, the “sentinel,” and evil itself. Readers will find themselves helpless to do anything but grasp their copy of Apartment 16 tighter as they rapidly turn the pages seeking release from the miasma of evil and the surreal horrors that lurk behind the long locked doors and supposedly empty Apartment 16.
The conclusion of Nevill’s novel is marked by horrifying events that come at breakneck speed and is the very personification of a nightmare. The novel will leave readers unpleasantly unnerved but also satisfied having enjoyed a well written and imaginative tale of the uncanny.
Also, the story was so focused on the present that the main character's lack of connection with anyone from her life back home made it feel less believable or real in some way. It was like, here's a story and now it's over. More thorough development and/or connection to her life outside of this would've rounded out the story better for me.
I'm a massive haunted house fan - however it often seems the genre's been done, making it difficult for stories to strike out in any new direction. Apartment 16 confirms that rather than trailblazing, it's best instead to just skillfully & viscerally immerse your reader in what you're doing.
Anybody who's ever lived in a city or loathed humanity's idiotic brutality will identify with this story all too easily, but the blue ribbon goes to the depictions of purgatory. J G Ballard toyed with the idea that transmogrification of the flesh transfigures the mind, but in Apartment 16 insanity is the dreadful and INEVITABLE consequence of being bereft of one's fleshy shell. Reading about that fate alone should be enough to drive you back toward the land of the living.
I didn't like the style. Too many short sentences. And sentence fragments. The author is imaginative but his writing needs work.