With the summer only just begun, it seems to me that October is an age away, but many of those in the industry have already turned their attention to the scary season, not least the powers that be at Pan Macmillan, who plan to publish Adam Nevill’s next novel the week before Halloween. It’s called Lost Girl and, as Nevill says, it’s a very different beast from the books of his back-catalogue…
This a thriller for sure, and may even be science fiction as it is set in the 2050s. Horror without a doubt, through depictions of a prescient universal horror (the consequences of runaway climate change), the occult, as well as the worst kind of personal horror an individual can experience (the loss of a child). Along with that, the story is my examination of a figure I have been fascinated with since childhood: the vigilante.
What follows isn’t final copy, but if it’s good enough for the author, it’s more than enough for me:
It’s 2053 and runaway climate change has brought civilisation to the brink of collapse. Billions are threatened with starvation and mankind is slowly moving north in a world stricken by war, drought and super storm—easy prey for the pandemics that sweep across the globe. Easy prey, too, for the violent gangs and people-smugglers who thrive in the crumbling world where ‘King Death’ reigns supreme.
The father’s own world went to hell two years ago. His four-year-old daughter was snatched from his garden when he should have been watching. The moments before her disappearance play in a perpetual loop in his mind, as do the nightmarish fantasies of who took her, and why. But the police are preoccupied. Amidst the worst European heat wave on record, a refugee crisis, and the coming hurricane season, who cares about one more missing child? Now it’s down to him to find her, even if it means going to the worst places imaginable, to do the unthinkable…
Here comes the cover!
Now I don’t mean to be utterly reductive, but Lost Girl sounds to yours truly like Taken with echoes of The Walking Dead, which is to say… well, several things. In the first, coming as it does from the author of Apartment 16, The Ritual, Last Days, House of Small Shadows and last year’s No One Gets Out Alive—an embarrassment of horrific riches, really—Nevill’s next does indeed sound like a dramatic departure.
It also has the potential to be awfully popular, assuming the comparison-points I put to you hold true.
Last but not least, in the course of announcing his new novel, Nevill noted that “in terms of organising the material, [Lost Girl] been the most challenging book to write thus far.” I’m going to go ahead and take that as a good omen, because life’s most meaningful experiences are rarely in my experience the easiest—so roll on October!
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.