Cunning Folk
Adam L.G. Nevill
Ritual Ltd. (October 25, 2021)
Reviewed by Ray Palen

I go out of my way during the Halloween season to really immerse myself in as much horror as possible—both in literary and TV/film form. This year, that included rewatching the terrific film “Ritual” as well as taking in the new Netflix film “No One Gets Out Alive.”  Each of those were adaptations of titles written by Adam L.G. Nevill.

How ideal that just a week before Halloween his latest title, CUNNING FOLK, should be released. One theme you will find in much of Nevill’s work is ancient history and paganism. Both are in fine form within CUNNING FOLK. Tom and Fiona, along with their four-year-old daughter Gracey, have finally traded in city life for a nice house in the burbs. Unfortunately for them, the home they have purchased not only saw the previous owner commit suicide in it, but it happens to be located smack next to some very odd neighbors and entry to a wooded area that houses ancient secrets.

The neighbors are called the Moots, and they are far from welcoming. They immediately attack Tom about the condition of the fence that separates their two properties. Later on, Tom will have another confrontation with the Moots when he learns that they harshly scolded Gracey about playing in the woods with her dog. Little did Tom realize that they may have been doing him a slight favor by that warning because of what they personally knew about those woods.

Gracey did indeed experience some interesting sights while in the woods, but no one would believe a toddler and their imagination. Not long after, their family dog dies a painful death, obviously having been poisoned. Tom strikes back, blaming the Moots for this, and cuts down the tops of all the shrubs and trees that lined the fence between them. The Moots did not take this well. It is at that point where Tom begins to have strange dreams and visions of beings in the woods with heads that looked like wild boars, hares, and other creatures. Soon, he will have trouble identifying these visions from his own reality.

Tom reaches out to someone he heard could help him with these visions and potential supernatural goings on, a man named Blackwood. He has no choice as Gracey has lost vision in one of her eyes as a result of what Tom believes to be a curse. With his wife Fiona now turned against him, and not believing any of the horrors he has witnessed, Tom has no choice but to venture into the woods in search of proof and a way to break the curse that he believes his daughter to be under.

What transpires next is some great horror that will both keep the pages turning and keep readers up at night processing what they have read. CUNNING FOLK is another winner for Nevill, who just seems to have his finger on the pulse of what scares us!

About Ray Palen