How can a book featuring no monsters be monstrous and, offering only scant redemption, give you faith in the human race?
Adam Nevill’s Lost Girl does just that by placing a figure known only as ‘the father’ in a race to rescue his kidnapped little girl. It’s set a few decades from now, but in a time that bears terrifying similarities to our own.
Lost Girl, to put it simply, is absolutely stunning. A world that works differently, but utterly similarly, to our own is rendered through an intricate and imaginative vocabulary that guides the reader through familiar unfamiliar terrain evoking uneasy empathy for the father.
The language chitters and intones the voices of that place even as the plot rushes forward and bodies and buildings corrupt into one.
The story itself is a shape-shifter, incorporating elements varying from a family drama, a detective novel and the possible supernatural, by way of religious belief.
There are so many references to actual historical information as to make this future utterly terrifying, and one criticism (or cause for acclaim) is that at times the sheer, relentless weight of the words and the images they project become difficult to bear. It is utterly ‘book down’ harrowing at points.
That is not to say that Lost Girl is without light. Indeed, the trauma the novel brings is made more bearable through moments of outright and extremely vicious comedy.
Lost Girl is difficult. It forces its readers down some very dark alleyways, and it helps to have a very vivid imagination and good vocabulary for the book to have its full effect. However, it is these shifts in gear that root the book in recognisable humanity and every plot detour and emotion is forensically examined.
The book will change you by its end. And once you get there, you won’t regret one moment spent!