Corsair, out now
After a horrific event in a small New Zealand town, a group of disparate survivors try to discover what caused it, why they were spared – and why they cannot escape…
Elizabeth Knox’s disquieting novel begins with scenes reminiscent of James Herbert at his best and then becomes a study in the creation and disintegration of a small community, as their weak spots are probed and used to destroy them. There are echoes of Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and very much of Michael Grant’s YA series Gone, but told in a more adult manner.
Knox expertly manoeuvres her characters so you don’t realise just how much the focal point is changing throughout the tale. There are one or two moments where you suddenly think that you aren’t privy to the reaction of someone who you would expect to be front and centre and that coincides with the gradual emergence of the genre elements of the story. These are intriguing and Knox leaves plenty of room for a sequel exploring other sides to them.
Although there are some horrific descriptions, particularly at the start of the story as a madness affects the small community, this is much more of a psychological horror tale than a gorefest – and it’s a story that I suspect will haunt your dreams for some time after reading.
Verdict: A well-told unsettling story. 8/10