Today's review sees the end of what can only be described as an utterly epic series of books, Autumn by David Moody. Autumn: Aftermath is the fifth and final entry in the series. Could Moody maintain the standard set by the first four entries in the series?
Considering that the first Autumn novel was unleashed in 2001, it is impressive that Moody's writing style has remained consistent. He has created a universe which is bleak, full of dread; and he has continued to evolve his characters in keeping with the ordeals they are faced with. Similarly, Moody's undead have deteriorated at a rate that has left them in a gruesome state of decay, leaving the landscape covered in an unholy, nightmarish sludge of human remains and assorted grim detritus.
The strength of the plot of the Autumn series, and continuing in Aftermath, has always been the characters and their struggles, aside from the horrifying postapocalyptic situation they have found themselves in. Dealing with bickering, in-fighting, personality clashes, power-struggles and other features of what could be considered normal life, the consequences of which are significantly amplified when set in a world where the dead have risen, creating an environment where tempers are more easily frayed and matters are likely to explode... literally. Additionally for me, the plot of Aftermath, at a point, takes an unforeseeable and deeply unsettling turn that only serves to continue to set apart the Autumn series from lessed contemporaries in the postapocalyptic sub-genre.
Some of the entries in the series have been criticised for being stand-alone sequels with no real tie to their predecessors other than being set in the same universe and centring on the same cataclysmic event. I can understand how, at the time of reading, on e of the titles from the series may appear as such. However, Aftermath takes the threads of the previous novels and weaves them together perfectly, answering many of the questions left by previous Autumn novels and surprising the reader with some real revelations.
Although the series and indeed Aftermath is decidely more cerebral than the average book about the walking dead, that is not to say that the final entry in the Autumn series is devoid of action. The continual onslaught of the undead is a given in these stories but Aftermath is littered with action sequences, explosions, deaths and rescue attempts... and how many stories of the undead have you read that focus on a castle?!
I've never made any secret of the fact that I LOVE postapocalyptic horror or that I try and support British horror as much as I can; the Autumn series is, in short, more than worthy of your attention. A decade or so ago, Moody took a real gamble and released Autumn on the internet for free. Ultimately, the gamble paid off and Autumn got a big screen adaptation and the film rights to one of his other stories, Hater, has been snapped up by Guillermo del Toro. If you need further evidence of the calibre of these books, look no further than award-winning author Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, Bad Moon Rising) who said of Autumn that: "This is smart fiction, written with style and insight. Not for the gore-hounds who can't think past a pile of entrails, but the rest of the readers in the world."