Craig Davidson, writing under the pseudonym Nick Cutter, has been named the winner of the inaugural James Herbert Award for Horror Writing for his book The Troop (Headline).
The award was set up in honour of the late horror writer James Herbert, and aims to discover and publicise a new generation of horror authors and celebrate the boldest and most exciting talent in the genre.
Davidson received £2,000 and a commemorative statuette after being announced as the winner at an event in London tonight (1st April).
The Troop follows scoutmaster Tim Riggs and his troop of boy scouts into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip. When an unexpected and emaciated stranger stumbles upon their campsite, events take a frightening twist, and the boys are confronted with a human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare.
Kerry Herbert, Herbert’s oldest daughter and one of the judges of this year’s prize, said: “This is the darkest of tales where human evil meets an insatiable force of nature to wreak havoc on kids, a scout troop, no less. What could be better? My father would have chuckled in his chair; his fans will love it. And you’ll never go camping again. The Troop is a brilliant and terrifying classic that I am proud to champion as the first winner of the James Herbert Award for Horror Writing - it's now one of my favourite books.”
The Troop was Davidson’s debut under the Nick Cutter pseudonym.
The other shortlisted books were The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey (Orbit), Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan), Bird Box by Josh Malerman (HarperVoyager), The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (Tartarus Press), and An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Titan Books).
Chair of judges, Tom Hunter, director of the Serendip Foundation, said: "The first winner of a new prize can set expectations for years to come, and the judges selected a fantastic shortlist that celebrated all the glitteringly dark shades of modern Horror writing.
"The Troop is a perfect first winner, and the judges loved its tense plotting, detailed characterisation and above all the driving sense of fear that compels you to keep turning every horror-soaked page until the end. This is a book that fans of horror will love and I believe James Herbert would have celebrated."
The other judges were Ramsey Campbell, author, editor and critic; Rosie Fletcher, acting editor of Total Film magazine and a horror expert and reviewer for SFX magazine; Sarah Pinborough, author and screenwriter; and, Dr Tony Venezia, researcher and visiting lecturer in literary and cultural studies at Birkbeck, University of London and Middlesex University.
The prize is administered by Herbert’s publishers Pan Macmillan, in partnership with the Serendip Foundation, and the estate of James Herbert.
The inaugural award was open to horror novels written in English and published in the UK and Ireland between 1st January 2014 and 31st December 2014.