Before You Sleep: Three Horrors
Author : Adam L. G. Nevill
Published : August 23, 2016 by RITUAL LIMITED
58 Pages on Kindle
If there is one genre of book that feels tailor made to the art form that is short fiction and short stories, horror is it. They pull a reader into the story immediately, build suspense or terror quickly, and then proceed to rip through a horrifying ending before you know what hit you.
It’s the rapid pace that allows those stories to linger and haunt your mind long after you finish them. Assuming they are GOOD horror stories. Nevill has given us three very good horror stories(and a bonus excerpt from his novel The Reddening) here in Before You Sleep : Three Horrors.
The book opens with a story called Where Angels Come In. This story is told through the eyes of a child in pain and starts with a brutal line describing it.
One side of my body is full of toothache. Right in the middle of the bones.
Nevill, Adam. Before You Sleep: Three Horrors (p. 4). RITUAL LIMITED. Kindle Edition.
From there the tale takes us on a journey where we find out how he’s injured and just what happened in that big white house on the hill. It’s wonderfully told and really embraces the feeling of kids peer-pressuring each other into making stupid decisions and, in this case, decisions that could cost them everything.
The next story , The Ancestors, is also from the perspective of a child. This tale shares a child’s journey into learning to love the new home her family has just moved into, including the old toys that come out to play whenever her parents aren’t watching, and the new friend that keeps her warm at night.
This story feels much more sinister than the first. Made even more so by the way Nevill describes the horrifying moments unfolding through the innocence of a child’s eyes, such as this:
‘Best not to touch him,’ Maho whispered into my ear and her coldish breath made me shiver inside. ‘He’s very old. He once belonged to a boy whom he loved very much, but he was taken away from the boy by parents. So he climbed inside the boy’s mouth to fix the broken heart.’
Nevill, Adam. Before You Sleep: Three Horrors (p. 21). RITUAL LIMITED. Kindle Edition.
While the first story largely wraps up the loose ends nicely, this story leaves one big question, “What happens next?”, that becomes more haunting the longer you think about it.
The final of the three stories is called Florrie, and has a pretty drastic tonal change from the first two.
Where the first two stories are told through the eyes of children, this story is told through the eyes of a man named Frank. Frank has just purchased a new home and has big plans for renovations and this new chapter in his life. But they say homes have a feeling, a soul, of their own. And this home has it’s own plans for its future, and for Frank, it’s latest tenant.
While this story was a bit jarring at first, due to the tonal shift away from being told from a childs perspective, this story really does a nice job of taking the “possessed house” horror trope and weaving it into a satisfyingly horrific tale. A tale with an ending that will leave you really feeling those “WTF just happened” vibes.
Nevill seems to have a preoccupation with “mouth horror”, that’s a thing right? It has the perfect level of nastiness to send a shiver through you as you read it, be it from fear or disgust. There were a couple good quotes involving horrible things and mouths in this final story, but this one is from early enough that it won’t spoil anything.
Frank had woken underneath the eiderdown in his room with his fingers stuffed down his own throat.
Nevill, Adam. Before You Sleep: Three Horrors (p. 41). RITUAL LIMITED. Kindle Edition.
The excerpt of the novel at the end, while creepy in its own right, I’m not going to touch on here since it’s hard to lay down a solid opinion when you know you are only getting a glimpse of a larger story.
That being said, it has a slightly different feel than the three stories in this collection, but Nevill’s voice seems to shine through nicely and the story that IS included in the excerpt is a great mix of mental horror and straight up physical gore, so the full novel might be worth a read of that’s your thing.
As a whole this collection, while VERY short, was an enjoyable read and the three stories within are all just different enough that they feel like their own, stand-alone, horror experiences.
Nevill, at least in these three stories, seems to hit a sweet spot in the mix of mental and physical horror. He doesn’t shy away from the violence and death, but also leaves enough meat on the bone to let you chew on the details in your mind, which only adds to the creepy-factor of the stories.
This little collection is a lot of fun and absolutely seems to give a nice taste of what an Adam Nevill horror story will bring to the table. While he is tapping into some fairly common horror tropes(which honestly is hard NOT to do at this point with so many stories being told over the years), the tales are fresh and the shifting tone of the individual stories is a great indicator that Nevill is comfortable in many different TYPES of horror styles.
If you like horror stories, especially when in short story or short fiction form, and are looking for a fun and fast set of scary stories to enjoy before bed, I highly recommend this small collection.
Before You Sleep : Three Horrors by Adam L. G. Nevill gets 4 out of 5 stars.
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