Apart from being an incredibly detailed, vivid, and psychologically haunting tale – Nightface grabs the reader by the hand and forces them to face a world where vampires not only exist, but also evolve into more powerful and twisted beings than one would ever think possible.
Peever succeeds at not only reviving a very over-used and tired creature in horror literature, but also injects a much needed amount of brutality into the theme, effectively handing it back to the fans on a bloodstained silver platter. Fret not, reader – Nightface will make you think, satisfy your thirst for vampiric lore, and reach into your mind and have you squirming all over. This is a brilliant first effort by the author.
It is gory.
It is vicious.
It is not a love story.
He could not remember a thing. Who he was or where he came from. After finding his lanlady’s mutilated body, where he was going became more important. He has visions of the undead. An abandoned house of isolated opulence lures him. Then he meets Sinthia – the only person who really recognizes him – and her hundreds of scars. Little did Gunnar know that running to Ottawa put him face to face with his future, let alone his vicious past. None of the puzzle pieces fall into place, until he turns his back on the day.
The premise here is simple enough -a victim of amnesia wakes up from a coma, starts to notice things are a little different from what he’d originally percieved, things get strange, BOOM – the answers unfold and life reasserts itself in a more complete manner than it was pre-coma. But within that simplicity lies a story so complex and character driven that it’s almost awe-inspiring.
Any seasoned reader would come to expect plot twists and intertwining story arcs, but how Peever manages to do this so seamlessly, is incredible. Personally, I felt that this book could have been longer, but the author obviously felt that she had enough space to do what she wanted with the length that she delivered. A follow-up would be welcomed with open arms.
Now, the shining point of this book (for this reader) is the level of description that courses through the entire tale. I don’t usually tend to like reading overly descriptive pieces of work, being from the Laymon-fan camp, but what Peever achieves here is nothing short of a Barker/Brite kind of feeling. A gothic, somewhat lonely, but ultimately imposing and dark read. Where one person would describe a scene using an almost point form style, Peever paints the landscape with resplendent and copious amounts of gore when necessary. And my, does she paint well. There are moments where one can actually feel the viscera pounding off the page in sloppy, disgusting displays of wanton barbarity.
One particular scene with a set of bonzai tools is sure to leave the less gore-seasoned readers gagging. I was left begging for more.
Where this novel lacks is exactly as I mentioned above. It’s too short. I would have enjoyed seeing some of the characters fleshed out more, and am looking forward to (hopefully) following them on a longer journey in a follow-up piece. Clocking in at a mere 236 pages, Nightface is more of a teaser to something that feels much, much bigger.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone tired of modern vampire literature, and wants something with more bite for their buck. (pun fully intended)
You can check out the Nightface website, Lydia Peever’s personal website, and grab the book from Post Mordem Press, Amazon, and other retailers online. If you’re in the mood to sample Peever’s writing style, check out the phenomenal little short story ‘Someday‘ as a bonus on the Nightface website.
– Colum McKnight