Published by St. Martin’s Griffin (24th May 2012)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 4.5
Kyle Freeman is down on his luck, he’s broke…beyond broke if he’s being honest. He’s so far in the hole of debt that there’s no way he can possibly get himself back out again. He’s a guerilla film maker and he’s yet to make THE movie, the one that will make him a household name. So when Max Soloman contacts Kyle about filming a documentary for him, he jumps at the chance. Everything is organised, all he has to do is take his cameraman and best friend Dan, to three locations and shoot some interviews in eleven days. It’ll be a push, but the story is worth it. The documentary is about a cult from the 70s known as The Temple of the Last Days, Kyle hasn’t heard of it, but that doesn’t matter, Max has waved a 100k cheque at him, so he’ll do it. Soon though, Kyle begins to question things. The cult was notorious for their occult rituals and suspected murder of members who no longer wished to be apart of the insanity that was Sister Katherine’s newfound way of life. Kyle ends up realising that he’s bitten off way more than he can chew, it’s not just about making a documentary anymore, it’s about trying to stay alive through the visions, nightmares, strange relics that keep appearing, and the appearance of something; something that the cult managed to bring forth, but what exactly is it, and can Kyle really survive it?
The first book that I read by Nevill was ‘The Ritual’, and this was after I’d already seen the Netflix movie based on said book. So while I did enjoy the book, it fell a bit short for me because I already had the story from the movie embedded in my brain. What I did know, was that I really wanted to read some of Nevill’s other works because he showed such promise as a horror author, and boy did his craft shine in this one.
I’m a sucker for anything to do with cults. I have a weird fascination with them. I have no idea why, put it up there on the shelf with the fascination with serial killers and what not. So when I saw that this book centered around a cult, and that there was also paranormal happenings I was SOLD. The first thing I want to really point out here, is that Nevill really did he his research. The cult in the book, The Temple of the Last Days, was so authentic to real world cults, that it had me wondering if it actually was one. However, in the acknowledgements at the back of the book, Nevill mentions how this cult is purely fictitious and of his own making and he lists the books he used as research to create it. I was blown away, it was so realistic and believable, and I am so here for it.
Part of the horror of this story is the cult (I’ve never used the word cult so many times before), the feeling of being so completely brainwashed that you give up all of your independence, wealth and possessions, in turn, making it virtually impossible to leave said cult because you’ve cut yourself off from your former life. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. Believing so blindly in the leader that you will do absolutely anything they ask of you scares me, because people really do have that level of charisma where they can ask you to jump of a bridge, and you’ll respond with “no problems, which one?” so that to me is a very real horror and one that is felt through the uncovering of the past through interviews with old members. The other horror is of the unknown and the unseen. We only get possible glimpses of the creature/s in the beginning. Flashes of white on a film camera, residue left behind on a wall or a door. The unknown is terrifying in any light, especially if that unknown is trying to kill you. This was one of those books that I thought “Hmm..probably shouldn’t read this right before bed…” while I was laying in bed reading it. It gave me definite creep factor and kept it coming the whole way just about. There was a slight lull in the terror in the last quarter of the book when things took a turn for the planning of something (being vague on purpose here), and the ending didn’t leave me reeling, it just left me faceplanted into a wall of stop, going “Is that it?”. These are the reasons for my .5 of a star off a perfect rating. Otherwise the horror was brilliant and I’m STILL thinking about the book after finishing it, genuinely considering re-reading it at some point.
The characters of Kyle and Dan are so likeable and real. Kyle especially is such a flawed and obsessive character who just wants his big break. You start to wonder of the reliability of him (at least I did for a little while there) as he slowly slips into a psychotic hysteria born of fear and lack of sleep. You wonder whether he’s really experiencing the things that he says he is, or has he gone so far down the cult rabbit hole that he can no longer discern between reality and fiction. Dan is a wonderful support character, and while he doesn’t get a lot of screen time, I liked him and felt he really added something to the story. The interviewees were so well written. They were all eccentric and had their own voice which was great.
This book sits at just over 500 pages and I absolutely flew through it. It’s a real page turner and it sucks you in and doesn’t want to let you go. I’m yet to pick my next book because I need something as good as this one, so I’m probably going to purchase another one of Nevill’s books and read that. If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend this author because he is so adept at his craft it’s fantastic. I personally find it difficult to discover good horror novelists who don’t rely on shock factor to create a story, and I feel that I have found that with Adam Nevill. While some of the scenes can be quite full on and there’s no holds barred when it comes to details, everything has a reason and a purpose for being in the story, it’s not there purely for shock factor, and I am here for it!
*= Read book. Repeat. may earn commission from sales made through these links.