Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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From the cover:
Stebbins Little School is full of bodies. It's unthinkable to Desdemona Fox. Children are sobbing as panicked teachers and neighbors beat down their family members outside of the school...or the things that used to be their family members. Parents don't eat their children do they?
Officers Fox and Hammond, along with journalist Billy Trout, are calling it the beginning of the end. This is the zombie apocalypse. An insane escaped serial killer is infecting Stebbins County with a deadly virus, and now the whole world is watching while Fox, Trout, and the remaining inhabitants of Stebbins fight for their life against...what? The undead? The President and the National Guard are ready to nuke Stebbins, PA off the map and cut their losses. But the infection is spreading and fast. Worse, the scientist who created the virus is missing. It's a numbers game as the body count rises; Fox has to contain the infected and evacuate the living before it's too late, and the clock is ticking...
FALL OF NIGHT is the sequel to DEAD OF NIGHT and, whoa man, is it a doosy. At first glance, the cover has an old-school zombie feel with fingers poking through what looks like a school locker, giving the teen-slasher impression. Then you read the first page and realize the extent of Maberry’s literary skill. The man is a wiz with words; images so detailed and graphic morph in the reader’s brain as each page is turned. Most impressively, though, I was able to fall right into the story without having read the previous in the series. What’s at stake becomes more important than understanding how they got there, which is horror at its best.
The Best of it:
Most people say to suspend disbelief when picking up a book, that your perception of reality will make it harder to envelop yourself in the story as it unfolds. FALL OF NIGHT needs none of that. Its realness makes for a terrifying tale. Intimate detail of the inner-workings of government officials up to the highest authority, the uses and painful limitations of certain weapons when faced with the threat of an enemy that’s already dead, and the harsh truth of how people will act when faced with kill or be killed all contribute to an overall picture of This Could Totally Happen. Scenes of conflict aren’t sugar-coated by the flicker of hope. The world has gone to shit in this novel and there’s nothing you can do but turn the page and wait for the carnage.
“A colossus that towered like a fire god from some pagan dream of Ragnarok, a titan of flame who reared above the town and raised a burning sword with such fury that the storm itself recoiled in terror.”
The Worst of it:
Midway through the novel, there’s an event (which I’ll continue to call an event to avoid spoilers). It’s significant and should be viewed from all necessary points of view, just not all of them. A cluster of scenes with singular points of view, never to be seen again, are like a roadblock in the middle of the journey. While the visuals painted in these scenes are startling, they do little to move the story along at a point when the reader thirst’s for more action. Push through them, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a second half that doesn’t stop for anyone.
Affectionately known as Goat, this character steals the show for me, hands down. Though his part in the story isn’t as major as some of the others, his character evolution in the face of unbelievable danger is hard not to get caught up in. Coming in at a close second is Billy Trout, whose, “This is Billy Trout reporting live from the apocalypse…” became my favorite line in the novel.
Yeah, but what if it were a movie?
She may be blonde in the book, but I couldn’t read Dez’s lines without hearing Demi Moore (circa G. I. Jane). Opposite her, playing her lovelorn, kind of stupid (but in a brave way) ex-boyfriend, Billy Trout, I’d cast Woody Harrelson. He’s got zombie experience, after all. Then we’ve got Edward Norton as Goat, Tom Hanks as presidential advisor Scott Blair, and Mickey Rourke as our serial killer. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that.
FALL OF NIGHT, much like its subject victims, doesn’t go down without a fight. Each page brings new tragedy, new conflict, and even more reason for the reader to beg the characters to fight their way through. The final pages give as much as they should in the way of maybes, but not so much that a wary reader won’t think twice about hoping for too much in the way of resolution. These characters are tough, and I hope to see them on the other side of Hell.