Old things… Old beliefs…
“So much has happened here, and it doesn’t sit well, under all this stone. Old things.
Old beliefs. Can’t you sense them? Does it all just disperse? Or does it linger for the careful eye to see, and the trained ear to hear? There is power beneath these flagstones. You mark my words.”
Professor Eliot Coldwell
Has the darkness returned to Scotland’s oldest university town? Is the time of witchcraft and ritual murder here again? Such questions need to be asked, because on the ancient streets of St Andrews, old words are being whispered by unseen mouths, and strange shadows have been seen amongst the ruins. Young men and women plagued by night terrors are vanishing from their beds and body parts have been washed ashore. Could this be a prelude to the Day of Wrath prophecy, a vengeful proclamation made by a witch as she burned at the stake, four hundred years before, in a chapter of the town’s bloody history marked by superstition, occult magic and persecution?
This is certainly not a place for outsiders, especially at night. So what chance do a rootless musician and burnt-out explorer have of surviving their entanglement with an ageless supernatural evil and the ruthless cult that worships it?
This chilling occult thriller is both an homage to the great age of British ghost stories and a pacy modern tale of diabolism and witchcraft.Read full excerpt
An Entrée to Banquet for the Damned
The first time I saw the spires, the ancient walls, the academic colleges and the cliff-side ruins of St Andrews through the windscreen of my car, I knew it was the location for my first supernatural novel, Banquet for the Damned. Here was natural beauty and radiance, and here was the Mediaeval and Victorian architecture that just suggested the supernatural. Here, you could believe in ghosts, and other terrible things.
It was my first sighting of the town, one week before my course in creative writing was due to begin and everything slipped into place. I was embarking on a year’s retreat to write the first draft of a supernatural novel while receiving tuition from professional writers, but until that point I had no location for the novel. Previously, I’d thought of Cornwall or Pembrokeshire as a setting for an idea that had been kicking around for at least a year – an idea for a book involving an occult philosopher, a once infamous and influential but now forgotten book from the fifties, something ghastly brought back from history, and all depicted with M R Jamesian stylings. I wanted to conjure the romantic gothic atmosphere of classic British ghost stories within the modern novel – a world of scholars and ruins, old tomes, shadows, mysteries and Latin inscriptions – and into it I wanted to seep malevolence, occult evil, and above all, psychic terror. I wanted to pay homage to the authors who first made me want to write – M R James, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and Lovecraft. But without slipping into pastiche. Not easy. It took me three years to complete the novel and I’ve forgotten how many times I rewrote it. If it was a DVD, the directors cut would be another 20K words long at least. But at least, as I first entered and then cruised around the town of St Andrews, I realised that I had a setting. And I would be living within it as a matriculated student on the masters program in creative writing as I wrote the book.
My preparation to make a contribution to my favourite genre was lengthy, and it was high time, after so many years of reading the canon, struggling with language, and forging a voice, that I fully paid homage to my favourite writers.
From the half-glimpsed manifestations that haunt the entire book to the pure visceral horror of the climax, from the understated menace that lurks under passages of dialogue to the lyrical terror we experience elsewhere, Nevill the novelist displays an impressive range of skills and effects. For example, chapter thirty seven offers a house possessed by evil, a condition so powerfully characterised that I would class the passage among the great sustained scenes of modern supernatural horror.Ramsey Campbell, from the Introduction to the PS Publishing edition
an impressive piece of work … full of marvellous thingsColin Wilson
Pregnant with horror both visceral and suggestive, Nevill’s novel-length study of mounting dread, malignant forces and personalities whose very flaws invite occult interference stands as one of the few supernatural novels capable of maintaining the atmosphere of menace and authenticity of setting most often successfully invoked in the short story.William P Simmons, Cemetery Dance
It’s that rare beast: a novel which is by turns readable, well written, compelling and w ith a great plot. Incredibly accomplished and with a really neat and original monster at the heart of the story. It’s a feast worth savouring.David Howe, Shivers