Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well. I’m bringing you my Friday book review today, and this week it’s The Vessel by Adam L.G. Nevill.
The Vessel by Adam L.G. Nevill was first published in October 2022 by Ritual Limited and runs 170 pages.
Leaving behind an abusive partner, Jess begins a new job at Nerthus House as a home carer for an elderly woman named Flo.
Hoping to provide a better future for herself and her daughter, Izzy, Jess struggles to juggle her new job and her ex, who’s trying to worm his way back into her life. As the story goes on, she notices that strange things are happening at Nerthus House, and she starts to understand and learn more and more about Flo and the secrets she’s been hiding for years.
Jess is the story’s protagonist, and we get to know her pretty quickly, learning about the hard life she’s been living. I connected with her right from the off, and I felt such empathy for her as she tried to live her life doing her best for her daughter, all while trying to prevent her violent ex from worming his way back into their lives. The relationship with her daughter, Izzy, feels natural and true to life. I’ve known people who’ve been in a similar situation to Jess and have seen the effects it can have on other relationships in a person’s life, not to mention the toll on mental health. The tension and frustration she feels are almost palpable, and you can’t help but want the best for her.
Izzy, Jess’s daughter, is our conduit to Flo. She seems to have a connection to her that others don’t, and she’s sometimes able to reach her, seemingly allowing the old woman to have moments of clarity. Izzy gets picked on at school, and she seems to confide in Flo as they start forging a mysterious friendship, which worries Jess. I truly felt for and related to Izzy, having been bullied at school myself (too many years ago now to even believe!), and each time the bullies appeared in a scene, I couldn’t help but will them to leave her alone.
Flo Gardner is an elderly woman with dementia whom Jess takes care of, and right from the outset, you get the feeling that there is more to her than meets the eye. For a frail old woman, she is deceptively agile, evidenced when she gets angry at Jess, hitting and spitting at her. There’s also a bit of a mystery surrounding her, which I won’t spoil here. Suffice it to say, she’s a great character, and one should have eyes in the back of one’s head when they’re around her.
Nerthus House also felt like a whole character, which I liked. It’s a dark place with secrets and an oppressive aura. Its presence is ubiquitous throughout the story.
The story starts off slow, and I almost stopped reading – not because the writing was bad, but because I felt nothing was happening. Little did I know that Nevill was just taking his time and slowly pulling me into what felt like a fully realised world. The mood and suspense of this story are very well conveyed, and I’m glad I stuck with it. The payoff is very much worth it.
There are important themes explored throughout this story, such as domestic violence, bullying, financial struggle and what it can be like to care for someone with dementia, which I appreciate. These challenging themes need to be discussed so those dealing with similar situations to Jess, Izzy and even Flo can see that there is hope, and Nevill has done this brilliantly.
I wasn’t keen on the cover. When I first came across it, I passed it by. I couldn’t put my finger on why. There was just something offputting. However, the image on the front stayed with me, and I kept thinking about it. Eventually, I returned to it and purchased a copy, and I’m glad I did. Although it was initially a little slow, it lets the tension and drama of the story build, and by the end, I realised that the slow burn was, perhaps, an intended element of the story. It helps to create an oppressive and claustrophobic feeling in the reader, helping you to relate to Jess as she grows anxious and confused.
The ending was somewhat unexpected, though brilliantly executed; all the questions I had been asking myself throughout the book were answered in the final pages, leaving me satisfied.
I genuinely enjoyed The Vessel by Adam L.G. Nevill, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a good, creepy folk-y tale. I’m looking forward to reading more of his stories.
I’d rate this book a 7/10.
Have you read this or any of Nevill’s other books? What did you think?
As always, thanks for giving my review a read. I really do appreciate it.
Until next time,
© 2023 GLT
Categories: Book Reviews, Reading
Leave a Reply