Reviewed by Elaine Lamkin
Written by David J. Moody
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Fans of David Moody’s best-selling Hater (soon to be a film by Guillermo del Toro) and Dog Blood can rejoice that his online, downloaded-more-than-a-half-million-times zombie hit Autumm is finally being published for mass consumption. Starting on October 26, 2010, St. Martin’s will publish Autumn, the first in Moody’s five-part apocalyptic series that never once uses the “Z” word. After that, in January or February, will come book two, Autumn: The City, and from there the final three books will be released about every three months (for fans of the online series, there IS a fifth book, but Moody isn’t talking about the title yet).
I LOVED Autumn! It REALLY resonates with Romero’s Night of the Living Dead as well as Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. Set in the city of Northwich, in northern England, the story opens with a virulent virus that literally kills within seconds. Soon, nearly everyone in the United Kingdom is dead. Just dying wherever they happened to be at that moment. But there are a few survivors who manage to band together in a ramshackle community center, where many are in shock and cannot manage at all in this “new” world, but there are others who want to find out what the HELL has happened. However, before this small band can organize and begin exploring, the dead start to rise. Not all of them, but enough to make the survivors rethink their plan for returning to the city.
Michael, Carl and Emma, however, are not going to wait around in the community center to see what happens next, especially with supplies being almost non-existent and the attitudes of the other refugees degenerating quickly. They make a plan to flee to the countryside, reasoning that there being fewer people there to begin with, they would stand a better chance of survival. This escape from the city starts the second and more powerful part of the novel. Three people entirely on their own who find an old farmhouse (English-style, mind you) and set about barricading themselves in to try and survive the oncoming winter as well as the undead, which seem to be recovering some of their senses and abilities. They gather supplies from nearby villages (and have some hair-raising encounters during a few of their excursions) and begin to realize that the corpses are attracted to sound and are finding the farmhouse.
For hard-core horror fans out there, this book probably doesn’t have as much bloodshed and brain munching as they might want, but if you read our recent interview with author David Moody, his take on the living dead is quite eye-opening as he makes some excellent points that I haven’t heard from anyone else about the “cadavers” in his books versus others’ take on the zombie mythology. Autumn is much more of a character study of the three protagonists and how they interact with and react to this new world they find themselves in, and I found that fascinating as well as the bleak feeling the book brings, being set in an English autumn. Still, there are some chilling moments, and by the end of the book, you will be waiting impatiently for the next installment.
Between his “undead” series and the Hater series, Moody is cornering the market on British “nasty virus” novels. And that is a very good thing.
4 1/2 out of 5
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