Britain’s premier literary horror writer is at it again with ‘Under A Watchful Eye’ – a book that sees Nevill move back towards his fondness for the supernatural in a tale that is brooding, beautifully written and deeply unsettling.
Last year saw Nevill release his first short story collection. An excellent collection it was too, though I think the novel format is where he truly shines. Novels enable Nevill to build his characters and his settings up piece-by-piece. Like a carefully constructed building, Nevill sets a solid foundation before moving upwards at a steady pace until reaching the top where you are seemingly flung off into an abyss of horror.
‘Under A Watchful Eye’ is the story of writer Sebastian Logan. Logan is struggling a little with his latest book, somebody is trolling him with fake book reviews and this is just the start of his problems. He begins to see ghostly images in his home and outside. The images seem to be following him. One day an old university friend (“friend” being a term I’d use very loosely) Ewan, appears in his life. Looking like he’s been living rough for the past ten years, Ewan wants to get Sebastian involved with something he has been writing, to structure and edit his work. Sebastian doesn’t want anything to do with Ewan, but threats of never being left alone force his hand, leading them both down a path of supernatural horrors, the after death and an age-old cult.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The whole concept of astral projection and the between-death is fascinating to read about. Similarly with Nevill’s other works, there aren’t an abundance of characters, instead Nevill chooses to focus on, pull apart and dissect the few he creates leaving you with a clear image as to who they really are. Another big plus is the setting for the book, Dartmoor and the south-west of England provide a wonderful backdrop for which the story is told and what better place for the book to reach its climax than an old abandoned hall?! I also enjoyed the little nods to one of Nevill’s earlier books ‘Last Days’. Seriously, if you enjoyed that one in particular then you will love this one.
‘Under a Watchful Eye’ is another example as to why Nevill is revered so much within the dark fiction community. His writing is sublime, the atmosphere that he creates is superb and his take on the supernatural is both original and scary. A wonderful book.
Pick up a copy from here.