Angry Robot, out now
A flash of light – and people disappear… only to return with a dark and threatening agenda…
I am really hoping that the second volume of Peter Crowther’s Forever Twilight series takes the characters off in a new direction, because, much as this is an enjoyable ride for those who like post-apocalyptic fiction, it feels a little too familiar.
The touchstone for such works has to be Stephen King’s The Stand and Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song, in which ordinary people are thrown into this sort of situation, teaming up with other survivors, some of whom have their own darker motives. Crowther’s characters are very much from this mould – there’s even the love of music that one of King’s heroes tends to have. The creepy Virgil is very reminiscent of The Stand’s Harold Lauder (as played by Steve Buscemi in full-on Con Air mode); the special young child has appeared in other guises in The Shining or at the heart of Swan Song. There’s trickery to vehicles straight out of The Tommyknockers, and some byplay between youngsters that could have come from the pages of It.
However, just because some of the characters and situations feel familiar, it doesn’t make this a boring or predictable book. A couple of the set pieces contain some of the best writing in this genre I’ve read in some time – you can feel the tension as a plane comes in to land in a Borders book store! – and the gear shift mid-book as we, and the survivors, start to realise that they’re not as alone as they think they are, is handled with aplomb.
There’s a lot going on, and some tantalising hints about the future for some of our core group; despite reservations, I’ve engaged sufficiently with the characters to want to know their fates. 6/10