In Barrington House, an upmarket block in London, there is an empty apartment. No one goes in, no one comes out. And it’s been that way for fifty years. Until the night watchman hears a disturbance after midnight and investigates. What he experiences is enough to change his life forever.

A young American woman, Apryl, arrives at Barrington House. She’s been left an apartment by her mysterious Great Aunt Lillian who died in strange circumstances. Rumours claim Lillian was mad. But her diary suggests she was implicated in a horrific and inexplicable event decades before. A crime now buried in secrecy. But one that haunted her for years and prevented certain residents from ever straying far from the building.

Determined to learn something of this eccentric woman, when Apryl begins to unravel the hidden story of Barrington House, she quickly learns that a transforming, evil still inhabits the building. And her quest leads to the discovery that the doorway to apartment sixteen is a gateway to something altogether more terrifying…

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An Entrée to Apartment 16

London was never an easy proposition. Neither to live in or write about. My early years were hard. I lived above an old pub in the East End and worked nights as a security guard in Knightsbridge. Romantic foolishness about an old school writing experience, and an escape from another soul-destroying job, led me there. Sleep deprivation hit me hard and became too much after 18 months. I moved to working days in a Mayfair block which better suited me, and gradually reintegrated myself back to daylight, a more conventional lifestyle, and sanity. In fact, I spent a period of four years from 2000 – 2004 as a uniformed porter guarding the front doors of London’s grand old apartment buildings, and the diverse and eccentric residents therein. In one of the buildings, I even became known as the ‘writer in residence’ and was often seen writing longhand during my shifts. The duties at work were light, my headspace freer, and yet, as a writer, I struggled to capture the actual experience of working a uniformed, unskilled, low wage occupation and its attendant impoverished lifestyle. It was only years later while working in publishing, that I was able to capture and re-imagine those years as a porter, and the beautiful, freaky, hyper-real world of the exclusive apartment buildings of West London. My time served as night watchman and day porter, my experiences and observations, had subsequently filtered into my imagination to become the ghost story called Down Here With the Rest of Us. A novel that took three years to complete over sixteen exhausting drafts. The novel formerly known as Down Here With the Rest of Us is now called Apartment 16 and was published by Pan Macmillan in May 2010.

It is a story of supernatural horror, and of the greatest modernist painter the world would have known (had any of his paintings survived); it is the story of a building that has been haunted for fifty years, and of the ancient residents imprisoned by an occult mystery within its elegant walls. And it is the story of the sacrifices two men make for their art in different eras – the sacrifice of companionship, comfort, compassion, and sanity, in order to transcend and to pursue the world through a creative vision. It is a creepy and deeply personal story. It is a London story.

Not since reading Stephen King’s It has a book managed to instill such a feeling of fear and disquiet in me. Legend has it that one of the author’s past jobs was working as a night watchman. If true, then this certainly explains why the central character, Seth, feels so authentic.

Apartment 16 is an impressive book, one that will make you think but not at the cost of neglecting the need to entertain, a demonstration of what the field of horror is capable of at its very best.

Black Static

His writing shows an almost perfect melding of the old and the new: the raw atmospherics of Blackwood, the subtle and oh so terrifying nearly-glimpsed horrors on the periphery of M.R. James’ and H.P. Lovecraft’s imaginations; the masterly development of buildings and environments as characters and vessels, (much in the same way as Stephen King’s infamous Overlook Hotel’s room 217 channels Jack Torrance’s psychological deterioration in The Shining); and a cutting contemporary miserablism describing everyday urban hopelessness that is as grim and inevitable as the spiral into which Seth and Apryl find themselves descending. Put simply, he writes damn unsettling prose.

‘Nevill specializes in ominous presence. There is a constant sense throughout the novel that something dark is looming in the background … Apartment 16 combines accessible writing with reserved dread – though there are some visceral scenes that will surely please those who like spectacle to take the spotlight. Nevill’s third novel will be rightly anticipated.’

Rue Morgue

‘Adam Nevill’s Apartment 16, due to be published by Pan in May, is setting the bar high for British horror writing this year. I’m not the most easily spooked of people when it comes to my reading choices; Apartment 16, however, managed to get me sleeping with the lights on, acted as the catalyst for two spectacular nightmares and turned the simple task of walking through my flat late at night to get a hot drink into the eeriest of beverage quests.’

‘The power of the novel comes from Neville's skill in winding out the tension and terror at a perfect pace and he does this so brilliantly that it is hard to fault the glorious construction he employs. Neville seeds Apartment 16 throughout with reflected glimpses of terror - horrors caught only in the corner of one's eye - and result a deliciously unsettling and skin-crawling read, one filled with an ever-increasing sense of dread and an incessant and insistent pull towards the darkness. Highly recommended.’