Tuesday, 16 June 2009

‘Tide of Souls’ – Simon Bestwick (Abaddon Books)


As much as I love reading about the shambling undead I hate it when authors try and give an explanation to why the dead are rising. It sometimes feels as if a particular author doesn’t believe there’s enough to go with, using zombies, and has to bolster things up by giving them a ‘cool new spin’. I’ll admit that it worked for Brian Keene’s ‘The Rising’ and ‘City of the Dead’ but for every Brian Keene there’s a Joe McKinney (‘Dead City’) where you end up questioning whether the zombies are actually zombies at all! Zombies can work fine as just zombies, they really can...
Anyway, rant over. You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m approaching zombie books with a degree of caution, these days, just in case they turn out not to be about zombies at all. This was the attitude that I had when I picked up ‘Tide of Souls’ and it soon became clear that it wasn’t a zombie book at all. It was still bloody good though...

The ice caps have melted and Britain is at the mercy of flash floods and violent storms. These aren’t as dangerous as what is under the water though; the dead are rising from the waves and hunting down the survivors...
Katja is finding post apocalyptic life to be no different than the year she has spent working as a prostitute for a brutal vice ring. McTarn is a former soldier who must fight the undead and his own demons to find the scientist who might just know what is going on. Stiles is that scientist, he might be insane but he knows exactly what is going on and what he must do to stop it.
Will they survive or will the dead eat them first...?

It doesn’t get a lot more apocalyptic than ‘Tide of Souls’; at least not as far as I’ve seen. What you’re getting for your money here is a brutal and intense ride on the waves at the end of the world. Bestwick doesn’t pull his punches in showing the reader what this means for the characters that we meet, what they must do and what is done to them. If you’re not up to this then... you’d probably be one of the first to go if something like this ever happened.

Bestwick paints an incredibly bleak picture of civilisation’s collapse; fully immersing the reader in a world that is sliding irrevocably downhill. Supplies are running out and people’s grasp on sanity is becoming ever more tenuous. There is no hope (although you’re lead to believe that there is) merely a stay of execution... This relentlessly grim atmosphere stayed with me long after I’d put the book down. In fact, it’s still hanging around in my head...

Such a backdrop drives certain characters mad but ‘Tide of Souls’ is also a study in heroism as our main characters step up to the plate to either make a stand or a sacrifice (and sometimes both...) These actions make for stirring and bittersweet moments in all the right places and although this can make things a little formulaic the overall effect was worth the price of entry as far as I was concerned.

The undead in the water may not be zombies but they do a fine job of ripping and tearing their way through the survivors in true visceral manner. There is an intelligence, of a sort, guiding them (I loved the concept but felt that the explanation was a little laboured) and this adds a whole new element to the attacks. These are undead capable of launching ambushes and this makes every scene especially tense.

Despite a couple of small niggles, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Tide of Souls’ and am looking forward to seeing what Bestwick comes up with next, another horror story like this one hopefully! Definitely one for fans of Abaddon’s ‘Tomes of the Dead’ series.

Nine out of Ten

P.S. 'Tide of Souls' gets its UK release next month; I can't remember when the US release is though, probably the month after...

7 comments:

bubbasmom said...

Graeme, thank you SO much for adding to my reading list:^) I'm so glad I found your blog!!!

Not only do I find books to read for me (on a more adult level), but I've also found books to recommend to students at the high school, where I work in the library. We've also added a couple of your suggestions to our collection.

Sweet Book Delights said...

Haha! Love a good rant :)
I'm more into fantasy and scifi but I never could resist a good zombie fest. Guess thats what comes of having free access to my bigger sis's video collection from a young age.
Brilliant review,
Vice x

Simon said...

Hi Graeme- thanks for the great review! Glad you enjoyed it.

Graeme Flory said...

Bubbasmom - I'm really glad the blog is working for you! :o) Which books did you add to the collection?

Vice - There's always room for a good rant! ;o) If you're a zombie fan then you really need to check out Robert Kirkman's 'The Walking Dead' series if you haven't already...

Morning Simon! I'm glad you liked the review, are you going to be writing anything more for Abaddon?

Simon said...

Hi Graeme. Don't know yet, but I'd be happy to. We shall see what we shall see...

Alex said...

I have just finished Max Brooks "world war Z" (which if you like Zombie books this is a MUST) I'm thoroughly looking forward to begining Tide of Souls and Graham's blog has tickled my taste buds even more!!!

zombiewaste420 said...

really nice review. i actually just bought this book today, ad was looking to see if i made a mistake...but it seems i did not. i love end of the world situations, and i love zombies even more. the way you describe this book makes it sound kind of like "the dead" by Mark E. Rodgers, where the zombies have a pourpose, instead of just rising up and eating your flesh. also i just wanted to mention my favorite series so far in the genre, "the morning star saga" and im really saddened by both z.a. recht's passing and the fact that we will never get a continuation of the saga. rip z!