Monday, October 26, 2015
Review: Nails by Fiona Dodwell
I've been following Dodwell's work for a while now and I have to say that one of her hallmarks is that her work is challenging. By challenging I mean that her work can frequently tackle difficult subjects like domestic abuse, rape, or stalking - things that make the average person squirm a little more in their chairs. This is probably what makes her works so fascinating to me, since it pushes the horror envelope a little further. This could, however, make her work difficult for some readers, which makes this novella a good place to start for new readers. There are difficult topics in this work, but they're more subtle than they were in her 2011 book The Banishing so if you're easily made squeamish and want to wade a bit before swimming into the deep end (and you should swim into the deep end if you want a good scare), this is a good start.
What makes this so unsettling for me was that Dodwell takes her time in drawing out the scares. There's a lot of human interaction in this novella, which I really enjoyed. We're given a chance to get to know the main character of Carla as she has to deal with strange noises and voices in her apartment. The buildup, paired with Carla's desperation not to have to return home, reminded me somewhat of Adam Nevill's No One Gets Out Alive. (Nevill's novel is also worth checking out, if you're curious!)
I can't and won't spoil the ending for you, but I was left with some major questions about everything that happened and I can easily say that this could be turned into a more full-length novel if Dodwell wanted to go that route or she could explore some of the side characters introduced such as Brian, the paranormal investigator.
This is absolutely worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of Dodwell's work. (And I am a major Dodwell fangirl!) Also, if you haven't read it already, you should check out her free short story "The Redwood Lodge Investigation". Parts of it are supposed to be based on something that really happened, which makes it much more fun to read!
(Review copy provided by author)