October 20, 2012 - 3:16 pm
Author: Tim Lebbon
Page count/size: 632pp
Release Date: 11th Oct 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
In the Appalachian mountain deep beneath the earth is a subterranean facility called Coldbrook, after its founder Bill Coldbrook, scientist and inventor. Bill is now dead, having committed suicide, so the facility is now run by Jonah Jones aged 76 years, sleep deprived and haunted by nightmares of a plague ridden burning world. And within Coldbrook is the breach, a gateway to another Earth, another universe, where strange creatures exist, and those living creatures who attempt to enter Bill’s version of earth are immediately killed with Holly’s device, the eradicator.
Celebrating the discovery of the breach with his colleague Bill, Vic Pearson seems assured of their place in the history books. All experiments are progressing well, that is until the shambling humanoid creature which comes through the breach isn’t stopped after three attempts at the eradicator. Holly assumes the creature is human, but there is something so very wrong with that assessment, which she realises as the thing attacks a fellow scientist with claws and teeth. Coldbrook is thrown into lockdown, but not before Vic can escape through a duct to try and be with his family, and not before Holly runs to the alternate earth to escape the monster, and not before . . . something, escapes the facility.
The other side of the breach, as seen through Holly’s eyes, is extraordinary, as is one of the ‘locals’ she meets.
In this z-poc thriller, Lebbon brings something new and original to the genre with his alternate universes and the breakdown of society he explores as the world is devoured in disease and decay. This is an apocalypse on a grand scale, reminiscent of King’s The Stand or The Mist, brutal, gruesome and an honest portrayal of the reactions of humanity in the midst of death and destruction.
Events are initially relayed through radio broadcasts, which add realism and an extra dimension to the novel. We often see the disaster striking a variety of places across the world and this makes the book a groundbreaking piece of work, and most certainly an original take on this well harvested genre.
The apocalyptic visions and survivors fights are vicious and gripping. Though a little long, it is still well paced and incredibly visual, reminding me of an epic mini-series. Despite the feel of it being ‘epic’ Lebbon still creates vivid characters through an ensemble ‘cast’, which breathes life and individuality into the book. In fact, as mentioned earlier, through its brutal imagery, plot construction and strong characterisation, I felt as though I were almost reading a middle period Stephen King book, if it were not for Lebbon’s distinctive authorial voice.
A truly breathtaking horror fantasy that had me reading into the wee hours of the morning in order to reach the end. Well done Mr Lebbon.