Oh … right… that doesn’t sound right does it ? Well, I make no secret one most of my social media platforms that I have a deep love for zombies. They are fantastic. Kinda like, Vampires but without the snobbery. And glitter. I love glitter but the genre is far to … ‘glittery’ now. So of course, pretty much everyone has seen The Walking Dead. It is back in October. I am surprised by the timing as if they had left it another week it would be out for Halloween. But then I guess we are working with American Autumn schedules which are a little quirky.
But believe it or not, this is not about TWD as much as I could talk your ear off about the show. And the show has been very influential. For a still relatively new show, it has spawned a great deal of interest in the genre, with new films, games, tv shows all cropping up. Hey I am not complaining!
The only thing that get to me, is I adore reading, and of course, zombies are a great subject. But TWD have infected (see what I did there) the genre to the extent that I would suggest that whole sections of dialogue were written while the author was watching the show. It isn’t always a bad thing. Some authors has used a degree of imagination in pushing through what the writers of TWD may have ignored, or glossed over. Going into more details of the hows, and whys. There are of course we have a variety of different types of zombies, some fast, some slow. Some remember, some are selective in their dinner – and there was one book that used cats in a really disturbing way.
I would also hesitantly suggest that it is cultural, most of these authors are American. There is a sense of wanting to look at society, the breakdown thereof, what people must or chose to do to survive. British authors tend to be a little bleaker in this respect and not as hesitant to just kill people off, and do it in rather inventive ways. But there has always been something missing, I don’t always quite grasp the motivation of the character, or care. So, what I am trying to say, is that the Zombie genre is muddy at best as everyone fights to get a piece of TWD action.
So, when a friend suggested I read Tide of Souls by Simon Bestwick, I really was not sure what to expect. You see, zombie novels are comforting to me. I know what to expect, there is almost a formula to the story, drag it out over as many books as you like. I have to be honest, I didn’t read the synopsis, I just dove directly into the book. I figured it would be a tale as old as time, with a new finish.
And boy was I wrong. I am at the edge of my seat reading this book. I won’t spoil it, I am not finished yet. But it is a rare thing for me to be so effected by a book. The language used is refreshing. It feels, real, there are colloquial terms thrown in and you feel as if you are transported. And don’t get me started on the descriptive narrative. I can still hear the flesh tearing from bone, much like our protagonist still does. The book just won’t let you relax. Often, when reading, I find myself skipping through pages as there seems to be filler. Unnecessary paragraphs thrown in, to help us better understand characters. Or as I cynically assume, to help with the word count. It does little or nothing for the word count, and in a book that falls somewhere between action and horror, you really shouldn’t need filler.
Tide of Souls doesn’t give you this option, there isn’t a simple or easy place to put the book down, stop reading … or … dare I say it… turn off the lights. Although I do suggest taking regular breaks because you may do yourself an injury! Somehow, the characters, as small as their part might seem, are so … real? So well written, that you get a feel for them. You can understand them. Maybe you see reflections of people you know, or can empathise with them. Simon shows a confidence in his writing, that he doesn’t need to spend a page or 5 describing a character’s background, upbringing or failed relationship. He is confident enough that he has used fairly recognisable archetypes in his book, while still maintaining their individual uniqueness. And as much as I want to shout from the roof tops (read the book, you will HATE me) he has also managed to tap into several fears, both real and imagined and weave them into a genre that, honestly I thought was over saturated. It isn’t since I read Girl with all the Gifts (seriously if you haven’t read this, do it … like after Tide of Souls, but do it) have I been so impressed with a genre book.
Edit: since writing this blog have finished the book, the pace does not let up, in the third part when you think thinks might settle down, be a little more subdued? Not at all, you are just waiting, you know something is going to happen. There is no breathing room. The idea behind it is pretty stark, it is bleak and sad. It is a very, very sad book. There is really little in the way of bright moments, there isn’t what I would call a happy ending .. this is all so very difficult to write without spoiling the book for you and I really do not want to do that. This book keeps you guessing, wondering, it keeps your adrenaline going. It is bleak, but in a way that takes away any distractions from the story, and the story telling. Please, please – go buy this book!
I thoroughly recommend this book, and author and hope you buy and enjoy his book(s) – please let me know if you have already read his books, or if you go on to read this book – let me know what you thought!