“The EF76 Strain” is a short zombie story, I hesitate to call it a book because, at under 60 pages, it’s more like a novella, but a bit on the short side for that, too. The story is told through a series of loosely connected events based on the “infected” people and their struggle to save themselves, or the people they care most about. It all starts with good intentions, a doctor trying to cure world hunger with a simple pill that has drastic side effects. Ergo: zombies. Except the people we see who have taken this pill and are affected, are not the people who should have taken it. They are people in a Florida suburb, not a starving 3rd world country. So why are they infected? Not sure. But they are. And now, we get to read their, often times, gory demise.
“From the Ash” is not your average post-apocalyptic dystopian book. This isn’t a series about a young woman going on a quest to fix her broken and charred world, she’s not on a mission to put the world back to the way it was before the bombs dropped. No, all Phoenix wants to do is go home. She desperately is trying to get across the barren wasteland that most of the United States has been left in to get back to Maine, where she clings to the hope that those she loves are there waiting for her. Phoenix has no idea if her father or boyfriend are alive, but the idea of them NOT being there and waiting is beyond her comprehension. At its core, “From the Ash” is the journey of a young woman running away from her depression, blindly believing that something better HAS to be on the other end of that tunnel, because if not, then what would be the point of even trying to go on? I love the subtly of that feeling Phoenix has, from someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression, I can relate to that feeling. That irrational hope that you cling to because, if you didn’t, the idea of just getting out of bed in the morning would be pointless. But that’d be a really, really depressing book to focus purely on, so Heron wonderfully bundles that within a physically strong and capable woman, and gives her a task that shows the reader her struggles packaged in an apocalyptic world—that is far more believable then most books out there—and that’s wonderful!
“Prey” has flavors of a cop-procedural, apocalyptic level stakes, paranormal monsters, and good old fashion horror. There’s a lot going on in Majka’s first book in the “Blood of the Ancients” series, and this first installment does a great job laying the groundwork for the series! “Prey” follows Eric Archer as he discovers the truth behind his parent’s gruesome murders, and uncovers long buried family secrets that may stretch back several generations. As Eric and those he works with uncover that their foe is an evil godlike entity, they have a limited amount of time to come to terms with their whole reality being upended, and put the beast back where it belongs. Only the fate of the world hangs in the balance, so, no pressure?
I got this book for Christmas which, once you read it (because you should) may sound kind of funny. It’s not the kind of feel good story one would expect to receive as a Christmas gift, but it IS wonderfully written. I’m not going to spoil anything about this book, so this review will (hopefully) be one of my shorter ones. I made the mistake of telling someone I was going to read “The Girl with all the Gifts” and the first thing they said was “Oh my god! I love that book! I knew there would be a twist but I wasn’t expecting…” Needless to say, I was pretty mad and it honestly spoiled the first 50 or 60 pages of the book for me. I’m not going to be that guy.
This is one of the first short story collections I’ve read since I’ve left high school. Honestly, I just preferred longer stories when I had “limited” free reading time during college and after work. But, as we draw nearer to Halloween and I am branching out to writing my own short stories completely separate from “The Monster of Selkirk” series, I decided it was about time I brush up on the short story format. So I killed two birds with one stone here: a book of nothing but scary stories! Which does make this a bit of a unique review for me as well, since there are a slew of different stories of varying lengths with different kinds of monsters… I’m not going to review each story individually. It would make this review unnecessarily long and, more importantly, ruin all of the elements of suspense, horror, and general creepy factor for the entire collection. So I’ll be looking at Sutton’s book as a collective whole rather than its individual stories.
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