Horror fiction capitalizes on fears. It can also be about confronting them. In Lost Girl, author Adam Nevill takes a big introspective leap. He delves into two of his greatest anxieties, Climate Change and, on a vastly more personal level, a concocted nightmare scenario about child endangerment. A guilt-ridden English parent is on an obsessive quest to find out was has happened to his daughter who was kidnapped a few years earlier. His search is complicated by the decline of civilization due to global warming. 2053 earth is on the brink of collapse, but the driven protagonist continues his grueling investigation against all odds. The unsparingly bleak narrative is compelling and disturbing. Because of the novel’s intensity, taking breaks from reading it are sometimes required. Yet the lure to return to the book is assured since Nevill skillfully hooks the reader with both the macrocosm and microcosm of the plot.
The Father, as he is referred to in the story, deals with many impediments on his mission. One hurdle he faces is a consequence of the climate catastrophe: “The biggest migration of a single species ever known on the planet was underway, and it had never been easier for someone to go missing. One third of all the refugees were children.”
As his external and internal worlds erode, The Father doggedly pursues the perpetrators of the abduction, and those who aided them. Some of the idiosyncratic personages he encounters are rather like characters in a Charles Dickens’ novel transported into a Mad Max sort of universe. Their sense of morality is quirky at best, and frequently based on expedience. The Father is himself a deeply flawed individual. His objective propels him forward, but he often reflects back on his familial failings. The myopic focus of his hunt feeds his remorse but also inures him to the mass chaos: “None of it mattered to him but as a cruel diversion that took people’s minds away from one missing four-year-old girl in Devon. His solipsism had been planetary in size. He’d defy any mother or father of a small child to think differently.”
Lost Girl is a departure for the award-winning author. Unlike his novels that feature supernatural elements, it is a work of speculative fiction that probes very real earthly horrors. Adam Nevill digs deep into his own psyche this time around and reveals what gives him the most profound jitters. His sterling prose gets under the skin in this extremely unnerving tale of paradise–and progeny, lost.