Drew is a loser. He’s fat, awkward, and hopelessly infatuated with a girl who doesn’t share his feelings. He has good friends though, and throws great parties. Sunny Hill, the house he shares with those friends, has been a party house for decades.
When Drew finds an old camera in the basement beneath the house, it leads him into a downward spiral of jealousy and rage. The pictures show some of the house’s previous inhabitants, and sometimes they seem to change.
Lurk is a story of corruption and degradation, of creeping evil and the underside of human happiness. It’s my kind of horror.
This is not a fun book to read. It’s about a basically decent person’s decline and fall, so it isn’t meant to be. Lurk is one of those books that makes you feel slightly unclean, drawn in and disgusted at the same time. It struck me throughout as rather similar to Stephen King’s Desperation, which has a similar sense of sordid uneasiness throughout. That ongoing atmosphere is one of Lurk‘s strengths – the horror comes from the oily persuasiveness of evil, and the protagonist is both repellent and sympathetic.
The book uses first person narration, which is an unusual choice for horror, and difficult to do well. It works here, though it’s not normally my preference, and gives the reader the closeness and connection to the protagonist that the story needs.
The ending is the weakest part, which is so often the case with horror. An initially tight idea expands and extends into metaphysics, losing some of the tension and pace as it does so. Plot twists that don’t really need to be there start appearing, padding out the narrative without adding much. To be fair though, Lurk does pull it all back together, tightening the focus and bringing the narrative to a somewhat satisfying close.
Adam Vine uses the supernatural to emphasize, not overrule, human characteristics, creating horror from human drives and desires rather than external forces. That’s a kind of horror that I don’t think there’s enough of, and it’s something that I’m always pleased to find. I would have liked a slower and more detailed exploration of Drew’s initial corruption, but that’s not a criticism – I just particularly enjoy the process of corruption as a character arc.
Lurk is fresh and original horror. It’s well-written and consistently unsettling. I’d recommend it.