Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Congeal by John F. Leonard
Another fine novella that fits perfectly into the limited space – I do appreciate writers who understand how to use the shorter format so well.
Amelia had a happy life with a man she loved, but then the Clag arrived; now she’s stuck in a deserted city with a guy she can’t stand, as nasty slimy stuff from the deep bowels of the earth rises up to swamp the world….
Having just read two post apocalyptic novels that centred round human relationships and practical survival, Congeal underlined to me how many subsections this genre has; this one is far into the ‘horror’ end. Amongst its many strengths, I liked the short, sharp prose style, so appropriate for the horror and despair of Amelia’s situation, though not without dry humour. I also enjoyed that those in the group with whom she found herself trying to survive―a standard in all PA stories―were not all of the likeable, resourceful, charismatic variety, as they so often are; indeed, Pete, Maurice, Yvonne and the others were types she would have avoided like the plague (pun intended) in real life.
A good ending, too―I had no clue about Amelia’s fate, even by 95%. Anyone who has read the author’s recent novella The Bledbrooke Works will enjoy the connection between the two, but both are entirely stand alone. Oh, and one more thing – in the flashbacks to Amelia’s pre-apocalypse life, she refers to her mother as ‘Mom’, several times. As she is English, living in England, and her story is written by a British author, I questioned this – out of place American English is one of my ‘ouches’, but apparently it’s a Birmingham-Irish thing, as well. Just making this point, in case it’s one of your ‘ouches’, too.
It starts with reports on the news of an inland lake turning semi-solid.
Surely, a media joke, some lame April Fool’s prank?
The before and after pictures are vaguely ludicrous and oddly disturbing, the contrast stark and strange.
First, darkly rippling water that hints at hidden depths. Slightly spooky and perfectly normal. Next, a putrid blotch of clotted sludge which bears little resemblance to anything aquatic.
It isn’t a joke.
And pretty soon, that greasy, sickening substance isn’t confined to an inland lake.
It’s spreading. Flowing over fields and filling streets.
Each morning brings a new revelation. Countryside denuded of life and towns empty and echoing.
The night is when it changes, becomes something that consumes. Something infinitely worse than a congealed impossibility.
CONGEAL is a short tale of apocalyptic horror. How the world ends may not be how you expect. Nuclear Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse could get beaten to the punch.
Our apocalypse may come from below.
An ancient, cosmic entity bubbling up to the surface in search of food.
It’s also the story of one individual and her fight to stay afloat in a sea of despair.