Wake by Elizabeth Knox
|Wake by Elizabeth Knox|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A novel that starts in a fast paced and horrific manner, “Wake” is impossible to put down for the first hundred pages or so, but soon slows down. Thriller gives way to a psychological study in this mixed book.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: March 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Theresa – a policewoman investigating a helicopter crash, finds herself in Kahukura, a New Zealand settlement that on first appearances is relatively calm and beautiful. However, as soon as she arrives, a wave of violence and madness hits the town – with the locals intent on destroying both themselves and each other. As the wave of madness passes, it becomes clear that there is a field surrounding the town – trapping the survivors inside. They must work together to grieve, come to terms with what they have done, and to find a way out of the situation. As the madness threatens to return, the fear that the violence may return becomes an increasing reality…
Elizabeth Knox is a New Zealand author, probably best known for her 1998 novel, The Vintner’s Luck, and her young adult fantasy series, Dreamhunter Duet. The first hundred or so pages of Wake are fantastic. Gripping, horrific and visceral, I was completely on edge and eager to see what would happen next – despite moments of gruesome violence that I found somewhat hard to take. It is after this initial orgy of madness and violence that things get complicated – and as a result, rather slow. The turgid middle section isn’t fully the fault of the author though – the opening is so shocking and enthralling that it would have been practically impossible to keep up a similar pace for the rest of the book, and as one gets further into the book, it appears that this change in pace is very intentional.
Whilst things do pick up and become somewhat more fast paced towards the conclusion of the book, there is still a thoughtfulness to the character’s actions – and it becomes clear that the book has changed from a thriller, to a psychological study of how people in a small community deal with fear, grief, and guilt. One issue for me was the number of characters – the book focuses on fourteen throughout, and it was initially quite hard to keep track of who was who, although this was not so much of an issue by the halfway point. They do stay rather hard to keep track of though, and whilst all receive exploration and exposition, some remain rather unknown quantities. It is the characters who really drive things along – and whilst some are left unexplored, characters like Theresa and Sam stuck in my mind long after reading.
Definitely an adult book, I would recommend Wake to those who are fans of The Walking Dead or survival horror in general – this explores those trends in a cerebral and intriguing manner.
For further reading – I would recommend The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Whilst not horror, the Inspector Gamache novels explore the affects of crime and violence on small rural communities – similar in some ways to Wake. In addition, they are cracking novels that can be read either stand alone, or in sequence.
You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Elizabeth Knox at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Elizabeth Knox at Amazon.com.
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