I picked up No One Gets Out Alive as Book #14 for my TBR-Haul Project. I was excited to get to it and to be checking off another backlist Horror novel from my TBR.
I originally hauled this in January 2019, with every intention of reading it quickly. Then I held it in my hands, read some reviews and I was seriously intimidated.
My edition of this book comes in at a whopping 628-pages, which is pretty chunky for a Horror novel known to be a terrifying, emotionally-exhausting mindfuck.
But one of my intentions with this TBR-Haul Project is to read books like this. Books I’ve been too nervous to pick up before and in this case, rightly so.
It did take me a full 2-months to read. Not because it was bad, or I wasn’t enjoying it, but because the content is heavy AF. We’re talking every trigger warning EVER.
I finished reading it on January 29, 2023 and am just now feeling like I am able to talk about it. I needed some serious time to process Stephanie’s journey.
There are so many important topics explored in this one, such as the cycle of poverty, urban isolation, sexual exploitation and the exploitation of victims by society and the media in the aftermath of violent crimes.
Personally, I feel like Nevill did a phenomenal job of digging into such meaty subject matter.
This story follows Stephanie Booth, who is down on her luck. After the death of her father, she knows she can’t continue living with her toxic, abusive step-mother. Therefore, she’s forced out of the only home she’s ever known.
Unfortunately, Stephanie has no other family to lean on and she’s recently split with her boyfriend, Ryan. In short, Stephanie doesn’t have a safety net and is on her own.
Working temp jobs doesn’t provide her with a steady enough income to build a safe life for herself, so she is flailing. In search of cheap lodgings, she discovers a flat for rent on a message board at a grocery store. The cheapest one she’s ever seen. Even though it seems too good to be true, Stephanie can’t afford to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The flat is located at 82 Edgehill Road in North Birmingham. An address you’ll never forget after you read this.
She is given a tour of the building by the creepy Landlord and ignoring all her intuitions, throws caution to the wind and accepts the flat.
After just one night, she is regretting her decision and kicking herself for not listening to her instincts. That’s the thing with poverty though, it robs you of your choices. Now she has to deal with the fact that she is a girl on her own in the presence of an unhinged male stranger. You see, Knacker the landlord, lives in the building as well.
It’s more than him though, Stephanie hears voices, crying women, scratching at the floors and the distinct sounds of violence coming from behind walls and closed doors.
Still she can’t get out. Knacker refuses to return her deposit so she can leave and she doesn’t have the funds to secure another place. She stays, hoping her temp work will provide her with enough money to be able to find other lodgings.
As time wears on, the happenings inside the house escalate quickly. Stephanie begins to abandon hope. She’s trapped in a horrible spiral of increasing misfortune. Will she be able to make it out alive?
Y’all, I can’t go too much further into this without getting into the spoiler zone, so I will sort of leave it here. Let’s talk about my experience with this story though.
I went into this not really knowing anything besides what is included in the brief Publisher’s blurb. I recommend that. If you are concerned with triggers, just know everything is included in here, so if that makes you nervous, you may want to steer well clear.
This book will not be for everyone. There is an overriding feeling of fear that I found to be emotionally impactful. Stephanie’s time in the house is marked by sustained terror, where she is constantly anticipating violence against her. It’s tough to read, not gonna lie.
I think for those who can handle it though, it is well worth the read. I thought it was so impressive how Nevill could not just sustain that feeling of dread, but how he was able to build and build and build on it, until you feel like you might not be able to take any more.
Then just when your head and heart are about to explode, there is a marked shift in the narrative, where we begin to explore a new side to this type of violent experience.
I was really impressed with this one. When I was reading it, I was completely invested in Stephanie’s experience and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. The way it is told, it’s so easy to picture yourself in Stephanie’s shoes, like what would I do?
It’s eye-opening in a lot of ways, particularly about how Stephanie’s status in society sort of stripped her of options. Even she recognized this; pondering how her life had gotten to this point.
It was sad and heavy, but an important thing to consider, because this is reality for a lot of folks. Maybe not this exact set of events, but certainly the scenario that lead Stephanie to this point and trapped her there.
On this bright and shining note, I will end this review by saying, anyone who thinks they can handle this type of narrative, should check it out. I think, as horrifying as it is, there is a lot to be taken from this.
Stephanie’s story is going to live in mind for a long time to come.