cover image Apartment 16

Apartment 16

Adam Nevill. Pan Macmillan (Trafalgar Square, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (452p) ISBN 978-0-330-51496-5

Inheriting a relative’s posh London apartment subjects a naïve 28-year-old American to supernatural peril in this formulaic horror novel. Stephen, head porter of Barrington House, tells Apryl Beckford that her great-aunt Lillian’s mental health had been declining for years. Apryl decides to stay for a while to investigate Lillian’s background and that of Felix Hessen, an artist who died mysteriously at Barrington House. Scruffy porter Seth, plagued by increasingly insistent demands from a mysterious hooded boy, is ever more attracted to the apartment and its strange noises. As Seth’s domination by the hooded boy becomes more macabre, Apryl’s request that he help solve the mystery about Hessen provides a welcome dimension of ambiguity that leaves his commitment in question until his final decision. A sudden revelation by Stephen provides a dramatic character reversal that partially justifies the predictable resolution. Nevill (The Ritual) does little to develop Apryl’s lackluster character; somewhat more engrossing are the nightmarish scenes of everyday London. (Nov.)