Thursday, November 16, 2023

Review: Nestlings by Nat Cassidy


Nestlings by Nat Cassidy
Tor Nightfire
Publication Date: October 31st, 2023
Paperback. 304 pages.

About Nestlings:

"Nat Cassidy is at his razor-sharp best again with his horror novel Nestlings, which harnesses the creeping paranoia of Rosemary's Baby and the urban horror of 'Salem's Lot, set in an exclusive New York City residential building.

Ana and Reid need a break. The horrifically complicated birth of their first child has left Ana paralyzed, bitter, and struggling―with mobility, with her relationship with Reid, with resentment for her baby. Reid dismisses disturbing events and Ana’s deep unease and paranoia, but he can't explain the needle-like bite marks on their baby."

I'm a little late in getting this review up, but for a book this good I think better late than never is perfectly apt here. Nestlings is a supremely dark, creepy, and intelligent story that builds up tension in such a slow burn manner that I felt constantly on edge and unsure of what was lurking around the next page. I'd been looking for a horror that would leave me feeling uneasy and disturbed, and Nestlings is the book that did just that and more. 

We follow Ana and Reid, new parents who have been having an exceptionally rough go of things since Ana's complicated and traumatic birth that left her physically paralyzed. Since then, it's been a struggle for the two as they not only have to go through the process of learning how to live with a newborn and be parents, but also must learn how to adapt to a brand new way of living for Ana. Ana also begins to struggle with feelings of resentment towards her new baby as a result of everything going on, which leaves Ana and Reid struggling to care for one another as well as they work through these many different struggles. 

It looks like their luck may have improved when they win a lottery for the chance to live in one of the luxury apartments at the famed Deptford building, known for its rich inhabitants. Unfortunately for Ana and Reid, life at the Deptford doesn't end up being as idyllic as they'd hoped, as their baby has been more upset than ever, their new neighbors are... odd, and things in the apartment have been putting Ana on edge in ways she can't quite describe. Reid's been digging into the Deptford's past with an interest almost bordering on obsession and has discovered it has quite a colorful past. And if old gargoyles perched on the tops of buildings have ever freaked you out, then this book is not going to make you feel better about them. 

Ana is an excellent character, especially for a horror novel like this. She's a bit of a badass for how she's managed to carry on with her life through all the traumas and struggles that have been thrown at her. Although she is now confined to a wheelchair, she really doesn't let this stop her and has adapted incredibly well to her new way of life--there's really nothing she can't do. Ana and Reid both have their own respective mental struggles, though Ana's postpartum depression has hit her hard and really led to some dark, scary moments for her. It's hard to watch Ana struggle through all of this sometimes, but I think the difficult journey that we follow her on is an important one that Cassidy handles with care and effectiveness.  

I have to say that Nestlings is not for the faint of heart because things do get really weird and really disturbing in ways that I'm not entirely sure I'd be able to adequately describe. This book is not only full of things that'll make you scratch your head and wonder what the hell you're reading, it's also got some pretty gnarly and gross moments that suited the ton and story perfectly. There are also some really intense  moments where I found myself sitting extremely tense as I rooted for Ana to get away from something or someone and I felt so incredibly creeped out watching it all unfold. Cassidy is truly an excellent horror writer who I think will only continue to write great things to shock us all. 

Something I also wanted to touch on was how well I think Cassidy managed to capture the rough, raw edges of grief and depression. Nestlings is horror and obviously very obviously dark in tone and subject matter regarding the Deptford and its internal happenings, but it's also very dark with regards to mental health and the dark places our minds can take us. I found myself highlighting an excessive amount of areas that I felt really captured my own feelings about many difficulties in life and that really set this book apart from others in its genre for me. There's a lot of thought and discussion around life and everything it throws at us, whether we are meant to look for signs that may help us, if there's ever hope for something more, and whether we as people can ever do enough or be strong enough to be who want to be and live how we want to. Based on the author's note at the end of the book, it sounds like he had some really rough times over the past couple years, and I think this is really reflected in the story and the sheer realness and rawness of the descriptions, and I appreciated his dedication to telling this story. 

Overall, I've given Nestlings 4.75 stars! I've still yet to read Nat Cassidy's previous horror novel, Mary, but I think my experience with Nestlings is going to be the kick in the pants I need to finally get around to it. 

*I received a copy of Nestlings courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon |

1 comment:

  1. I loved this too! And I also need to go back and read Mary, I'm so curious now.