The Nestling

Charles L. Grant
The Nestling Cover

The Nestling


I think my random book generator understands that we're coming up on Halloween. Even after going outside of it for once to read Dark Harvest, the last two books it's picked have been horror novels. Given the season, it's hard to complain about it.

The Nestling is set in the southwest, which is unusual for Grant, but the story is about the tensions that exist between the Shoshone and the whites in a small town, so it makes sense to relocate to that location. Most of the novel focuses on the tensions that exist between the groups, with the supernatural element arising from that tension. Grant uses the setting as a means to rely on Native American mythology to source that supernatural element, which was somewhat bothersome. In his previous books, minority characters are used less for their character and more for incorporating some sort of aspect of that culture to give a reason for the supernatural events. It seems exploitative, and I prefer his novels where the supernatural just is, without trying to anchor it into any particular culture.

The book is a good example of Grant's style. It has the long, slow buildup of characters and setting, interspersed with some supernatural events so we don't forget we're reading a horror novel. There was less atmosphere in this novel than there was in his Oxrun Station books, which could be due to the setting. I would say that atmosphere is better associated with dark, gloomy spaces, instead of bright, hot places, but The Elementals proved me wrong on that point. There were a lot of characters in this book, too, enough so that I found myself several times having to flip back to remember which character was which. Many years ago, I got in the habit of having a scrap piece of paper with me when I read a book, so I could jot down characters' names and a brief bio; I wish I'd thought to do that with this one.

At best, the book is just OK. It has some big-name blurbs on the front and back cover (King and Straub), so I was hoping for more. Even being accustomed to his style, the book felt underwhelming. I'd recommend it for hardcore Grant fans, but even for folks who are hardcore horror nuts, I'd recommend most any of his other books over this one.