Horror writer David Moody runs “Infected Books,” a publishing company devoted to horror fiction. Infected Books are completing a year long monthly series of novellas of zombie fiction by different horror writers. “The Plague Winter” is Rich Hawkins’s contribution.
I haven’t read Hawkins’s”Plague” novels that this derives from, but on the strength of this I will most certainly be checking them out. So not having read this this review will be not be informed by the wider canvas of this particular apocalypse. But from what we can gather from the novella, humanity is done, wiped out by a hideous infection that transforms people into deformed, tumescent, zombie like creatures. But that’s not all. Their flesh is likely to erupt at any given moment into gaping, extra mouths full of alien teeth and livid red, suckered tendrils. If you think “The Thing” meets “The Walking Dead” you won’t go far wrong.
In this novella a grandfather (Eddie) shepherds his grandson (Sam) through this nightmare landscape. The grandfather scavenges for food (and whisky to keep his alcoholic demons at bay), returning to the cottage where he guards Sam under lock and key. They apocalyptic setting, scenes of scavenging, and father/son relationship is reminiscent of “The Road,” and even has a staccato writing style not dissimilar to Cormac McCarthy’s. But it is a good, and skillful borrowing.
It is a brisk, riveting read and has a sucker punch at the end. Recommended, and a real hook to the rest of this series.