“How far will he go to save his daughter? How far will he go to get revenge?
It’s 2053 and climate change has left billions homeless and starving – easy prey for the pandemics that sweep across the globe, scything through the refugee populations. Easy prey, too, for the violent gangs and people-smugglers who thrive in the crumbling world where ‘King Death’ reigns supreme.
The father’s 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. But the police aren’t interested; amidst floods, hurricanes and global chaos, who cares about one more missing child? Now it’s all down to him to find her, him alone…”
British supernatural horror writer Adam Nevill has followed up his sixth novel “No One Gets Out Alive” with the rather different “Lost Girl”. OK, so the title may seem a bit derivative given the seeming increase in books with the word “girl” in of late – “Gone Girl”, “The Girl On The Train”, “Luckiest Girl Alive”, “The Good Girl” etc., but the subject matter on offer here is very distinctive.
The tale is a first for Nevill in that it’s set in the future, centred on the county of Devon in the year 2053. This is a future that has seen mankind practically destroy the planet and left us very much at the mercy of a damaged and unhappy mother nature! Although there are parallels with the peak oil scenario played out in works such as Alex Scarrow’s “Afterlight” the situation described within the pages of “Lost Girl” is rather more of a nightmarish situation – extreme climate change, mass migration, pandemics, crime, violence – but sadly no less believable.
This isn’t a sci-fi future that is too far from the present to be unrecognisable, and I think that adds to the sense of realism that pervades even when the author’s trademark supernatural elements are introduced. In fact, so cleverly has this aspect of the book been penned that the reader could accept the seemingly supernatural elements to be exactly that or could write them off as the ravings of a drug-addled madman as the central character “The Father” attempts to.
I wasn’t too sure about having the main character have no name – indeed his missing daughter isn’t named until a long way into the tale and two of his contacts are only known by film star pseudonyms for the majority of the book too – but in the long run it isn’t a big deal and really doesn’t detract from an excellent and typically horrifying story.
The synopsis at the top of this post gives a decent flavour of what the book is about but it won’t prepare you for the horrors that unfold as the tale progresses. Those horrors work on several different levels – there is he horror of the not-too-distant-future-world, the horror of mankind’s treatment of its environment and fellow man, the supernatural horror and, by no means least, the horror of having your child stolen away from you.
I have to confess that I have a soft spot for Nevill’s debut novel “Ritual” with its mix of isolated rural horrors and black metal, but “Lost Girl” proves beyond doubt that Mr. Nevill continues to be an excellent writer who rarely puts a foot wrong. Highly recommended reading…