Rating: 5 out of 5
Adam Nevill’s short story collection Wyrd and Other Derelictions is one of the most original pieces of horror I’ve seen. There are seven “stories.” I put stories in quotation marks because they’re not at all what we think of when we hear the word. If anything, these are epilogues to stories. The action has already happened, and the only narrative voice is very unobtrusive. It’s like taking a guided tour through an abandoned (mostly!), unnatural crime scene in every story, piecing together what happened.
There’s a seemingly-empty ship that heads toward port. There’s a land empty of life where there can be found a circle of colorful tents and the remnants of a ritual. There’s a gash in red sands that leads either to or from the sea, and a bloody clearing in the woods where tents and campers lie ruined. These places are so devoid of anything currently human that they read and feel like alien landscapes. It’s several stories in before we even see a sign of concurrent life. There are bodies with eyes missing; burned bones and cooked bodies; and a holiday camp that looks like it was flooded by the sea. A seemingly abandoned town being lit by a strange light from the sky yields the sound of glass breaking in the distance.
I loved these stories and felt entirely pulled in despite the lack of a “normal” narrator, a protagonist, or almost anything we associate with stories. It’s a magnificent collection!
Content note for some mutilation, death, etc., but it’s all past-tense. It’s already happened.