Elijah wakes up in a cage, and can barely remember anything about himself or his situation. He fights his way alone to escape a building full of bizarre and deadly monsters, while learning disturbing truths about himself. Once he finds the way out, he has to pass it up and keep fighting to rescue his wife and child from his nemesis.
I had no idea what to expect when beginning this novel, though I guessed at the horror. It begins in darkness, as Elijah wakes up in an unfamiliar environment with no idea how he got there. I really enjoyed the first person narrative; it was akin to waking in the dark with him – a terrifying place to be. Descriptions of those first few agonising minutes, and the sense of anticipation, were beautifully executed.
The story is reminiscent of the Resident Evil movies, minus the zombies. Not that this book needed any; there were monstrosities abound. It was horrifying to realise these creatures had once been human and I was torn between pity and fear. But there were other genetically modified aberrations, and I coped with them until Elijah was confronted with flesh-eating spiders. At that point, I was so in the zone I wanted to run screaming in the opposite direction!
Being inside Elijah’s head brought the gore and horror of his situation into sharp focus. Descriptions were often graphic and the creatures the stuff of nightmares. The action was non-stop throughout – he faced a new horror at every turn. I found his humour a nice touch; it gave me a little breathing space.
My favourite thing about the book is the mystery element. Elijah’s memories return in a series of flashbacks, and this was a definite hook. I especially liked the fact the author linked them to sounds/sights/smells – it was a sensory overload.
There were twists and unexpected revelations, and Elijah’s conflicts were well thought out; the echoes of his past intertwining with the choices he made. The more he remembers, the clearer the picture becomes.
I really liked Elijah’s voice, his strength and his willingness to accept the mistakes he made. I get the feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.
Quan Williams has previously published three other books and various short stories, as well as spending two years as a journalist for The Michigan Daily Newspaper. He studied creative writing under the tutelage of Jonis Agee, author of “Strange Angels” and “South of Resurrection.”
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