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Baker's Dozen

Some Will Not Sleep: Adam Nevill's Favourite Horror Short Stories
Sean Kitching , October 30th, 2016 07:40

To mark the Halloween release of his own first collection of short stories, Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors, horror novelist and genre aficionado, Adam Nevill, selects a Baker’s Dozen of his favourite short stories from contemporary writers in the field of modern horror. As with Nevill’s 2015 filmic Baker’s Dozen, fans of the genre are going to find an abundance of suggestions to work through on this list. (Written by Adam Nevill, as relayed to Sean Kitching)


Nina Allan — ‘Wreck of the Julia’
After his wife leaves him, the protagonist has a recurrent dream of an island and of a great passenger ship moored beside it; his absent wife also appears as a subject in the painting. This is followed by another dream of a film of a mountain that may not exist. The dreams are urgent, significant, but uninterpretable. The protagonist then finds the painting in a gallery, by an artist called Kenneth Ghoule. He also learns from the Ghoule's niece, that her uncle produced the work from out of his own emotional devastation, following a rejection by his own wife, Julia. The painting is "So like his life, with all its mysteries and disasters and thwarted ideals. It has a greatness about it, as if something powerful was trying to struggle free of him (Ghoule)."

For the painting's setting and imagery, Kenneth Ghoule, also used the story of a Nazi war criminal who made his escape on La Gomera, in the Canaries, and disappeared along with three other passengers, who had been aboard the same Dutch ocean liner that appears in the picture.

But there is nothing predictable about how Allen then integrates and ultimately connects so many disparate ideas, and stories.

The narrator and Kenneth Ghoule's niece travel to La Gomera. There, the strangeness and mystery of the narrator's experiences intensify within an enchanting tropical landscape. The past, his dreams and the present all appear to converge. The rules of the universe, subtly suggest misalignment. Coincidence and an unnerving sense of being guided by the inexplicable, which is convincing in this story and others by the same author, take on a sinister cast.