Tim Lebbon’s riveting The Silence brings to bear his mad story skills on a fusion of apocalyptic hell, creature feature fear, and nature strikes back bloodiness. This novel, which grips you by the throat like a hands-on assassin, speeds you into a neo-classic approach to literary scares.
Monster mayhem has roots back to 50s nuke fear cinema and before. Consider Grendel. And frightful things smaller. Literature is littered with deadly creatures. End-of-the-world storytelling, arguably a later development, religious eschatology notwithstanding, is also a thoroughly embraced part of our culture now. And nature’s revenge type tales are nothing new either.
In The Silence, Lebbon weaves all these into a swift but gritty tale that keeps a Koontzian grip on hope all the while battering the reader and the characters with nigh relentless terror. Which goes beyond the fact of small cat-sized winged beasties with a voracious appetite for ye olde hemoglobin, and beyond the fact of even the human horror element (like Stephen King, Lebbon recognizes the ultimate monster in mankind). There is the decay of society, of civilization. Ultimately, loving families become hypervigilant survivalists and loved ones must accept their own and each other’s new roles.
When a hitherto unknown cave system is discovered, the science news is trumpeted all about. An entire ecosystem, cut off from ours, featuring bold new (to us) critters, previously undiscovered species. Science cheers erupt.
And then they find the flitting, flying beasties that can’t see shit but track prey via sound. This is a very bad development. Urban areas suffer the worst first. Thus, our eyes for the images, a deaf girl and her family, flee the city for the country. Harrowing adventures ensure, from run-ins with desperate gun-toters to off road traveling gone south to hell.
Run-ins with the beasties and, shall we say, misguided people get worse until threats on multiple fronts culminate in a home invasion showdown that is terrifying, distinctive and laden with imagery that will stick to the walls of your skull.
Human strength and gutwrenching loss embrace in this fast-paced, intelligent terror tale by one of the genre’s masters. Lean but meaty and damn near unputdownable, I really must tout The Silence as a top shelf go-to for avid horror readers needing something to gnosh on.
* * *
More horror from The Film Phreak at filmphreak.tumblr.com. Also visit Film Phreak sister sites noirjournal.tumblr.com and bookdevil.tumblr.com.
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.