Shelley has been reading The Dead Lands by Dylan J Morgan
Author: Dylan J Morgan
Category: Post-apocalyptic Thriller
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I’ve read some fabulous reviews about this book and so was eager to get my hands on it, but none of these reviews prepared me for what I was about to read.
I’m already a huge Dylan Morgan fan; his horror books are not to be read without a light on, and his novella, October Rain, was an explosive sci-fi novella. With the promise of a sequel to The Dead Lands on the horizon, I jumped at the chance to read this post-apocalyptic thriller.
Lane is a bounty hunter and not afraid to live his life as a hired gun. He clears the streets of Erebus of the cheating, murdering scum and gets paid for it. When he is forced to re-join the army or face the death penalty, he is thrown into a situation beyond his control. Sent on a mission to the destroyed and desolate twin planet of Hemera, the crew are told that they are answering a distress signal from a president who was placed in a cryogenic tube one hundred years ago.
When you go to watch a movie at the cinema, you have the big screen and surround sound making it a truly involved atmosphere. Reading The Dead Lands was a similar experience. Dylan’s writing is highly descriptive, and he makes you feel like you are there, in the thick of the action, running for your life.
The characters are such a wonderful mix of personalities, but they fit perfectly together. Ludger grated on my nerves, as he should, but I instantly warmed to Lane, Reese, and Blaine. You can’t help but urge them all on to safety as you race through the book at breakneck speed. Of course, being safe isn’t what sells a good thriller, so there are many gasp-out-loud moments.
Dylan does a fabulous job of creating his mutated horrors that creep from the darkness of Hemera’s fallen city. If this book is ever made into a film, I will be first in line at the box office.
The ending blew my mind, and I had a shell-shocked look on my face for most of the day. I can’t wait to read the sequel!
I read The Dead Lands as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Noelle has been reading The Dead Lands by Dylan Morgan
Book Review: The Dead Lands by Dylan J. Morgan
I decided to read this book in preparation to review the second in this series, based on a terrific review by a fellow blogger. I was so taken with it, I decided to review this one as well.
This book is a really wrenching description of the future of mankind in its third age, and as a result, I really don’t want to know how we got to a third age!
The story opens lovingly, with the President of Hemera injecting his wife and children with a drug that will let them sleep away the next hundred years, to avoid the ravages of the imminent nuclear destruction of the planet. His hope is that when they awaken, he can lead in the rebuilding of the planet. One hundred years later, a distress signal from Hemera is received on its sister planet Erebus, notifying the corrupt government there that the President and his family are alive and expecting rescue.
Lane is a bounty hunter, having been dishonourably discharged from Erebus’ army for a friendly fire incident, and he is chosen by Colonel Padon to be a member of what Dugan hopes will be a lost mission. Padon, a man who Lane loathes, was Lane’s immediate superior when he was in the Army, and he blackmails Lane to force him to join the mission.
The operation is expected to be straightforward, because every indicator describes a planet as a dry shell of barren sand, all forms of life having been extinguished by the nuclear war. Intelligence reports weren’t intelligent, and the operation is anything but what was planned, and the person leading it was in on that secret.
The team is composed of soldiers who mistrust and even hate each other, including a former lover of Lane’s, whose brother was killed in the friendly fire. Egos and over confidence are rampant, at least until they land, a landing which almost doesn’t succeed because of mechanical difficulties. Another reviewer describes Hemera as a “yellow ball of misery,” and I couldn’t have said it better: desert dry sand for miles and no apparent life, at least until the ship is attacked by feral inhabitants. Think Mad Max.
The author does an excellent job of painting the bleakness of the landscape and the rubble and ruin of the capitol city of Magna. Tension ramps up as the team makes its way to the origin of the signal, tracked and picked off by horrifying monsters, the product of ghastly genetic mutations.
Lane faces the toughest battle of his life to survive the operation, with the additional danger of a team member sent with orders to kill him.
This was a gritty and occasionally gruesome tale, with more graphic violence than in my usual reading choices. However, the author does such a good job that I bought into the characters and their emotions – loyalty, love, hatred and mind-numbing fear. It’s a story told from multiple points of view, although Lane’s is the core. I was never confused and seeing through different eyes enriched my understanding of the world the author has created and of the various motives of the characters.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Think it’s appeal with be stronger to men and to those readers who have an affinity for dystopian worlds. Nevertheless, it’s a heart-stopping adventure and I will read the sequel soon.
I love a good horror story. I grew up devouring Stephen King books and I’ve never found another author that does small town spooky oppressive atmosphere, flawed but sympathetic characters and downright ‘bump in the night’ scares so well. So Dylan J. Morgan had a lot to live up to.
He has the small town atmosphere down perfectly. Vacant and its flawed inhabitants are compellingly drawn and easy to picture. I was torn between sympathy and frustration at Sheriff Keller and despised the deputies and the town mayor. Keller in particular was a complex character – beautifully done, he is the epitome of a man struggling to come to terms with his past, a man who knows his life has been a waste, who knows that he is weak, and yet still has that shred of humanity that has you rooting for him and wanting things to be alright.
The threat that the town faces is well -portrayed and satisfyingly scary, and the opening of the book is a real hook, paving the way for the gruesome secret at the heart of Vacant. The writing itself is technically flawless. The pacing is perfect, the dialogue authentic and the amount of gore pitched perfectly.
The only sticking point for me is the motivation of the ordinary townspeople. I didn’t quite buy that they would agree so whole-heartedly with how the police, preacher and major choose to deal with the threat to their town. These are nice, normal people. I’m not saying they can’t agree to it, only that I wanted to know more clearly why they had – why they were so convinced that this was the only option. There is scope perhaps for the religious element to be played up a bit more here. What Stephen King always does so well is make you believe that ordinary people can do dreadful things. And while this book was a compelling, competent and really enjoyable read, I didn’t completely believe it.
Olga has been reading The Dead Lands by Dylan J Morgan
This review is written on behalf of Rosie’s Books Review Team. Thanks to Rosie Amber and to the author, Dylan J. Morgan for offering me a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I recently read and reviewed another one of Dylan Morgan’s novels Flesh see here , a horror novel, and I was impressed by the book. Another member of the review team (hi, Terry!) recommended The Dead Lands and I took note. The author is preparing the second book in the series The Dead City and kindly offered the reviewers a chance to catch up with the updated version of the first novel in the series. And I’m happy I followed the recommendation.
The Dead Lands is a post-apocalyptic vision of a world, or rather, a mission where a group of army officers from the planet Erebus are sent to rescue the president of a planet, Hemera who’s been in a cryogenic state for a hundred years following a nuclear debacle. What at first sight seems to be an elite group sent on an easy mission turns up to be anything but.
The book is told in the third person, and each chapter follows the point of view of a different character, and that includes the president of the planet, Lane, who is the only one of the members of the team we get to know before the mission (a disgraced ex-army officer turned bounty hunter and the one who perhaps it’s closest to a hero figure in the standard sense), a variety of the team members, people they meet at the new planet, and many more. It is difficult to say if any of the characters are the true protagonist or the hero (some are easier to empathise with than others, but all seem to have motives and reasons for their behaviours that are far from straight forward). From that perspective, the novel is very democratic and even characters (?) with no redeeming features, or possibly not human, are given a voice (or a consciousness). That makes for a very unique reading experience, one at times uncomfortable and surprising. Although I don’t play computer games, it feels as if one was living in one and in a mission with the characters, with the possibility of playing different parts (although not of your own choosing).
The book is dynamic and fast paced, with no lengthy descriptions (some can be more detailed like the characteristics of the weaponry), and there’s plenty of action, fights, and scary moments. There isn’t a lot of world building, and the reader is thrown straight into a world (or two worlds) that’s understandable if scary at times. The world of The Dead Lands is at the same time familiar (particularly the corruption and morals, or lack of them) but alien. What would our world be like after a nuclear war? I don’t want to give away the whole story, but let’s say that it’s not called The Dead Lands for nothing.
The novel is a great example of the genre. It has a gripping plot, characters that are complex and fallible (some with backstories we’d like to know more about), nothing and nobody is what s/he seems to be, there is betrayal, greed, corruption, cowardice, surprises galore, horror and a world that’s scarier because it’s uncannily easy to recognise. Ultimately, the question is, who is the real enemy? The one outside, or the fragmented loyalties and lies that are the quicksand on which the mission, and the whole world, is built?
I recommend this novel to lovers of the genre, but also to those who love a fast paced story full of surprises, and are willing to push their reading experience beyond comfort and ease.
Ah, and after reading the tasters of the next novel in the series, I can hardly wait.
If you like #PostApocalyptic books then fellow book reviewer and author Terry Tyler recommends these.
Broken World Series by Kate L Mary – I’ve read all 6, but the short stories are a great intro. Links to reviews on all of the books on this one.
Zombie Apocalypse. Set in California, Nevada, Colorado and Georgia. http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/broken-stories-by-kate-l-mary.html When a deadly virus sweeps the country, Vivian Thomas sets out for California in hopes of seeing the daughter she gave up for adoption. Then her car breaks down and she’s faced with a choice. Give up, or accept a ride from redneck brothers, Angus and Axl. Vivian knows the offer has more to do with her double D’s than kindness, but she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to reach her daughter.The virus is spreading, and by the time the group makes it to California, most of the population has been wiped out. When the dead start coming back, Vivian and the others realize that no electricity or running water are the least of their concerns. Now Vivian has to figure out how to be a mother under the most frightening circumstances, cope with Angus’s aggressive mood swings, and sort out her growing attraction to his brooding younger brother, Axl. While searching for a safe place to go, they pick up a pompous billionaire who may be the answer to all their problems. Trusting him means going into the middle of the Mojave Desert and possibly risking their lives, but with the streets overrun and nowhere else to turn, it seems he might be their only chance for survival. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Turning of the world by John Privilege
Pandemic, set in Northern Ireland http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-turning-of-world-by-john-privilege.html It was all going so well. Bobby Reynolds leaves Canada and travels halfway round the world to begin a new life with Sally in Northern Ireland. They have a nice house in Carrickfergus, good jobs and are looking forward to starting a family. But out in the world, a tipping-point has been reached. A devastating new disease emerges in a Vietnamese town called Quang-Tri. Suddenly, it is no longer far away, or on the news; it is outside in the street. With frightening speed, the familiar, the cherished are all stripped away. Northern Ireland teeters on the brink, then collapses into bloodshed and violence. Bobby, suddenly a stranger in a foreign country, quickly discovers that there are worse things than Quang-Tri Flu. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything. This first book, Future Perfect, tells the story of Caia, an intelligent and highly educated young woman. In spite of severe governmental and societal strictures, Caia finds herself becoming attracted to her co-worker, Mac, a rebel whose questioning of their so-called utopian society both adds to his allure and encourages her own questioning of the status quo. As Mac introduces her to illegal and subversive information she is drawn into a forbidden, dangerous world, becoming alienated from her other co-workers and resmates, the companions with whom she shares her residence. In a society where every thought and action are controlled, informers are everywhere; whom can she trust? When she and Mac are sent on an outdoor research mission, Caia’s life changes irreversibly. A dark undercurrent runs through this story; the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty, will appeal to both an adult and young adult audience. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Surviving the Evacuation series by Frank Tayell
Zombie Apocalypse, set in UK. Have read 4 of them
The outbreak started in New York. Within days the infection had spread to every corner of the world. Nowhere is safe from the undead… Bill watched from his window as London was evacuated. His leg broken, he is unable to join the exodus. Turning to his friends in the government, he waits and hopes for rescue. As the days turn into weeks, realising inaction will lead only to starvation and death, his thoughts turn to escape. Forced to leave the safety of his home he ventures out into the undead wasteland that once was England, where he will discover a horrific secret. This is the first volume of his journal. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
The Dead Lands by Dylan Morgan
Set on imaginary planets
Lane is a bounty hunter for Erebus’ corrupt government, his life a constant battle against past demons. Framed for murder, Lane is offered one option to avoid the death penalty: rejoin the army and partake in a covert operation to the apocalyptic world of Hemera, Erebus’ sister planet.
A century after the nuclear conflict that ended mankind’s third age, Hemera has now sent a distress signal to its sister: the president has awoken, and he’s calling for aid. Early intelligence reports indicate the mission will be straightforward, that Hemera is a vacant shell with all forms of life and hostility extinguished.
They are wrong.
Bandits control the dead lands, but there are things much worse waiting for Lane and his squadron once they enter the city walls. Having lived with the nightmares of his shattered past, Lane must now face the mutated horrors of mankind’s future in the toughest battle of his life. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Great Bitten: Outbreak by Warren Fielding
Zombie Apocalypse, set in UK
You’re walking down the street in the early hours of the morning, in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, when you see something that makes the rational side of your brain itch. It has mortal wounds and shouldn’t be walking, but it is, and if you hang around for too long, it will be heading towards you. How would you react?
You survive the initial throes of civil unrest and the collapse of law and order. The world has become your playground. What kind of person do you become? You have never lived for anyone else except yourself. You are selfish. You like being alive. But you do have a conscience, and a soul. Who do you save first?
Warren is not a likeable man. Warren doesn’t even like himself. But he does like existing, and he wants to continue doing it, no matter what hell is emerging around him. Being pragmatic and a bit of a git to boot, he doesn’t find making the hard decisions difficult.
What he does find out, is that the hard decisions are not necessarily the right ones. And being a bastard in life does not prepare you for the clashes that will ensue once the edges of society begin to blur and fade out.
It isn’t just the infected and the resurrected that Warren needs to be wary of, as he negotiates his way around the post-infection south coast in a haphazard attempt to keep himself and his family survive. Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
A graphically gruesome opening chapter sets the scene for the horror which surrounds the town of Vacant. The townsfolk are living in fear of the unknown entity after a couple were killed in their own home. In order to appease whatever lurked in the woods, visitors or people passing through were to be chosen as sacrifices, at the instigation of the fanatical Pastor Nielsen and corrupt Mayor Wyatt. Deputies Manning and Brady select the victims and Sheriff Andrew Keller and Deputy Matthew Nielsen dispose of the remains.
The main characters, although very well interpreted, are all flawed and damaged in one way or another, drug addiction, alcoholism, corruption, and initially none of them were in the least appealing. Even Deputy Nielson who, although he seems unconcerned about the grisly tasks he performs in the woods, wants to help Sheriff Keller and stop the killings, yet in his own way he also has a desperate addiction.
Then about halfway though I began to root for Sheriff Keller. The past he’s been running from and trying to drown in whisky and beer, unexpectedly appears in Vacant, turning him into more of a sympathetic character. He has no choice but to face his demons and he tries very hard to fight as the suspense escalates. I liked the inclusion of Joe, the Chippewa Native American, who brings everything to a head when he shares his knowledge and beliefs.
The vivid imagery and detailed description of the setting creates a powerful representation, as do the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. The sense of fear, panic and disbelief as events unfold. Dylan Morgan puts his own unique spin on a Native American legend in a lurid tale of sex, murder and horror contained in a well thought out and suspenseful plot. The narrative is paced well, incorporating some surprising twists and treachery.
Dylan Morgan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Once again I was instantly captivated by the descriptive writing and fully developed characters. The opening scene of a wife murdering her husband, chopping him up and serving him up for dinner certainly hooked me in.
The brutal and graphic murders that haunt the small town of Vacant are sinister and menacing, but so too are the townsfolk and half of the police force.
I was split into two camps when reading Flesh. Half of me felt compassion towards the drunk Sheriff Andrew Keller and his deputy Matthew, and then the other half of me wanted to scream and swear at them for letting deputies Manning and Brady get away with their drug induced behaviour. I was rooting for the Sheriff the whole time and wanted him to stand up for himself more against the corrupt Mayor and the freaky pastor.
As with any good horror story you expect a bit of blood and gore and Flesh delivers this in Dylan’s uniquely descriptive way. What I love about the author’s style is how he delivers the gore in short, sharp bursts as he concentrates primarily on the characters and their story.
The book is told from the various characters point of view which gives you a better insight into the inner workings of their mind – not always pleasant in some cases.
The ‘big bad’ remains elusive until the end portion of the book leaving a trail of terror as you speed towards the finale, which was fabulous – I didn’t see that one coming!
A must read for horror fans. I couldn’t put it down, even when my cat jumped onto my lap at a crucial point and I nearly leapt out of my skin!
I’m officially a Dylan J. Morgan fan. From his previous two books I’ve read, I knew I loved his novels. As of now, I’d read anything he put in front of me. Grocery list, errands to do – anything!
As a warning, I’d advise some of you not to eat while reading the first several pages of this book – but for me? I found the opening scene morbidly delightful, and could only imagine the type of research the author conducted. Vacant is full of some vile, twisted people who perform some reprehensible acts to keep a creature fed and away from their town. Sheriff Andrew Keller is one of the more flawed MCs I’ve seen, an absolute wreck of a man – and yet I didn’t find it difficult to connect with him. When his past is revealed, it’s a surprise and at that point, I came to the harrowing realization of where this story was going. The suspense escalates even more from that point and I was riveted until reaching the end of this book.
Flesh offers vivid imagery of blood-soaked scenes, wicked chills, nail-biting suspense – a veritable buffet for horror fans. But it’s also about the story of a man struggling to make amends for some regrettable life decisions. Highly recommended. I received a digital copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team.
Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan Horror, twists and turns and a small-town legend that’s anything but…
I am reviewing Flesh as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I’ve received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
I love horror. Books, movies, series… I’d read very good reviews of Dylan J. Morgan’s books and when I saw one of his books come up for review at Rosie’s team I decided to take the chance and read it.
You probably have read (and/or watched, if you’re interested in the genre) similar stories. Small town, something in the woods is killing people. The something might vary from book to book. Here the small town is not the wholesome small-town of cosy diners and picket fences, but rather the strange world of Blue Velvet (well, perhaps weird in a different way, a corrupt place full of drug-addicts, alcoholics, mad preachers, power-crazy mayors, and people prepared to do anything to keep themselves safe, even if it means others have to suffer). And the story is written in such a way that we don’t really know what we think we know, or rather, we don’t realise what we know until very close to the end. At least for me, the novel was full of surprises.
The novel is told in the third person, from quite a few of the characters’ points of view, the main characters. None of them, with the exception of Miranda, but she hardly appears in the first part of the book, are easy to connect with or sympathetic. The book opens with one of the character’s (although we are not told many things about her) extreme violence and a description of butchery that, being a doctor, I must confess had me wondering if some of the things were anatomically possible… As we see things from the character’s mind’s eye, the reading can be quite uncomfortable. On the other hand, at least for me, it didn’t work at the level of some scenes of extreme violence in Tarantino’s movies, for instance, when you might find yourself joining in and siding with the perpetrator. But perhaps that’s a matter of personal taste. The rest of the main characters are deeply flawed, addicted to alcohol, drugs, and egotistical. Matthew, newly joined deputy sheriff seems too good to be true, other than for his sexual relationship with a woman that also seems to break the rules (sex during work at the police station for instance), but until more than fifty per cent of the book has gone we don’t have much of a hero to root for. And then, things change. And how. (Also some new characters appear that add to the interest, but the biggest surprise is how the ones we knew already change. Or we realise we didn’t know them quite as well as we thought.)
I’m not overtly fond of descriptions and the book is full of them, be how the characters are feeling (hangover, highs of drugs, sex, hot and sweaty…), clothes, food, drinks… Although well-written, I felt due to this the first half of the novel moves at a slow-steady pace, whilst the last half speeds up.
As you’ve probably noticed from what I’ve said, I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the book, where you feel much more invested and engaged with the characters and things get much more personal, not only for us but for some of the protagonists. It is a good way of rising expectations and interest, although there is always the risk that some readers might not follow the writer, but in this case it’s well-worth the patience. I won’t go into a lot of detail not to spoil the reading experience, but as I mentioned, it took me quite a while to work out the connections and the ins and outs of the plot. It’s very cleverly done.
Overall, would I recommend this book? Yes, if you love horror, and you like descriptive writing, both of horrific scenes and in general (there’s also a fairly explicit sex scene, be warned), and want to be taken by surprise (even shocked). And, a word of warning, whatever you think of the beginning, keep reading, because the second half of the book is fantastic.
Steve has been reading October Rain by Dylan J Morgan
October Rain is a short, dystopian, science fiction story, set against the backdrop of a less than perfect Mars colony.
The prologue sets the scene for the theme of the book, briefly describing the utter despair of the narrator. Instantly your curiosity is triggered – how can the rain burn? Why is this person’s heart so broken? And what do they not want to remember?
From Chapter One, the narrative jumps the reader into a life on Mars, told through the eyes of our narrator. With little excess description and a confident pace, we are drawn into this life as the job, family and circumstances lead to an unwanted, if not unexpected conclusion.
I enjoyed meeting the ‘hero’ of October Rain, the author has provided sufficient details for me to empathise with the pressures piled upon this weary individual who struggles to cope. His cynicism and attitude are in keeping with overall theme and add to the overwhelming helplessness experienced by the end.
As with all such dystopian science fiction this book both makes the reader despair for our possible future and rejoice that just maybe our humanity will survive when we eventually leave our planet.
I reviewed this book as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.