Book Review: Lurk by Adam Vine

imageIt’s been a while since I delved into the horror world, so this debut from Adam Vine seemed like the perfect place to start!

Film student Drew Brady lives with his friends in a college house, where all the usual shenanigans associated with student life take place. His best friend/unrequited love, Bea lives close by and spends a lot of time there too. When Drew finds some polaroids of former tenants in the house’s suitably creepy basement, he soon finds that the photos reveal much more, and that a dark force is pushing the group towards something unimaginable.

The horror genre has become a little tedious of late, much of it repetitive rehashes or mass market slashfests, so Lurk was a pleasant surprise. While the premise of Lurk may seem straightforward, it is anything but. What follows is a deeply insightful look into not only the lives of young people and their most basest of emotions, but also the more complex problems associated with depression and self-image. While the others are all good-looking and popular, Drew is overweight and geeky – a trope you might think, but no. Drew’s journey here is the real story, and although he uses his encyclopedic knowledge of horror films to try and figure out what’s going on (a little nod to Scream), his real problems lie deep within his own mind, which makes his manipulation all the easier.

Lurk also benefits from a more subtle approach to horror. Graphic violence is used sparingly to great effect, relying much more on the intricately creepy atmosphere that is allowed to build slowly through the narrative, and the mysterious characters that Drew and his friends encounter as the story creeps towards its conclusion. It’s also an interesting study of cycles, and how sometimes we can so easily become trapped in our own reality to the extent where we doomed to make the same mistakes time and time again. Vine also paints a sometimes painfully accurate picture of the behaviour and culture associated with this generation, and how in many ways they have been failed by their predecessors, raised on pop culture and mass media to the point where they’ve become desensitized and disenchanted, existing in their own bubble of reality.

The final chapters are executed with expert precision, drawing the reader in with unbearable tension, while at the same time delivering a game-changing revelation that sets the scene for one of the most memorable endings I’ve read in quite some time.

Lurk is a taut, tense, brooding tale that grows beyond its influences to create a uniquely modern landscape for new horror, without resorting to gratuitous gore or ridiculous plot devices for shocks, instead preferring to creep inside the unsuspecting reader’s head and deliver its chills in all the right places.

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