Has it really been a decade since David Moody finished up his incredible zombie horror series Autumn? A series of books that gave me a brand-new appreciation of zombie horror in print. You can read our reviews of each Autumn book here.
To sum the story of Autumn up…
One day 99% of the world just died…choking to death on their own blood. An airborne virus, no-one could see it & no-one could fight it. In an instant humanity was almost wiped out completely, those that weren’t affected hid away, frightened & lost.
Then the dead got back up…
At first, they wandered aimlessly, not seeing & not knowing. Oblivious to those that had survived the virus but soon they began to change.
Suddenly survivors were under attack from the masses of the dead. With no clear motivation they gravitated to where our remnants hid, the slightest noise creating a chain reaction that saw hundreds & thousands all moving towards the same place. As the days passed, the threat increased & the dead began to learn…
Crafting unending horror amongst tales of survival, David Moody captivating a legion of readers for many years with the Autumn series (as well as the incredible Hater series too). So when he announced he was to return to the undead world he created with a new trilogy of Autumn stories, fans celebrated.
This fan? I was a little more reserved. Not because I doubted David Moody, he really is one of Britain’s finest horror writers, but rather because of the state of zombie fiction in 2021.
With no pun intended, zombie horror is a rotten and stinking corpse these days. Aside from the occasional bright spark (Train to Busan, The Night Eats the World), there’s not been much to enjoy. Even the most recent mainstream offering (Army of the Dead) fell way below expectations, that weren’t very high to begin with. No-one cares about zombies anymore. Just look at how far a show like The Walking Dead has fallen in regard to viewers!
So, you can see why I may have had some trepidation even if I knew deep down that I could rely on David Moody to deliver.
So… did he?
Autumn: Dawn is the first in a new trilogy of Autumn books and is set in London. That there was a reason for me to get excited already. You see, I live in London. I work in London. I drink and go to shows in London. I know its streets, I know its landmarks, I know its tight confines and the difficulty that comes with navigating its insane build. I call London home, so to have David Moody reanimate the dead in the city I know so well, had me salivating before I even turned the first page.
Just like the original series, David Moody doesn’t hang about and has the virus destroying most life immediately in Dawn. The chaos that ensues is viewed through the eyes of a lone survivor who goes in an unexpected but exciting direction when faced with such horror.
Everyone dies, then everyone gets back up. What would you do? Especially when they start to get more and more aggressive as time goes by.
For a group of survivors trying to make sense of it all in a central London hotel, the nagging worry that things are only going to get worse, won’t go. They’re right to be fearful of the hordes of dead that are attracted to the slightest noise. They are changing and what remains of humanity is going to have to fight to survive.
Leave the city? Easier said then done when most of the city’s population has died and reanimated. As of 2021, London’s population is estimated to be over 9 million people. That’s a lot of dead people walking about and David Moody captures just how terrifying such numbers would be.
Think about it for a second. You’re sneaking through the streets, clogged with cars, debris and corpses. You accidently brush up against a car, setting its alarm off. It cuts through the silence and is heard for miles and every single zombie comes to the source. It becomes a wall of rotting flesh and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers that arrive.
Can you imagine sinking in decaying flesh and drowning under a mountain of moving corpses? David Moody makes it all too real. His descriptive style ensures you can smell the putridness, you can taste the sourness and feel the panic. It’s enough to turn your stomach while also revelling in such gore.
If there’s one thing David Moody has done differently with this story, it’s the sense of claustrophobia. Even if you have never stepped foot in the city ever before, you will feel it. This is not a tourist’s version of London, this is someone who knows the city and personally, I love what he has done here. There’s something so horrible about picturing places you know so well devastated by the dead. Hell, I happen to work for London Underground so when stations start to come into it, I really felt the reality of Dawn’s new world.
The story is spread across the city and with multiple different characters. Heart-racing stuff and there are very few moments to take a breath. Especially with the different and imaginative scenarios that these characters find themselves in. Without spoiling things, David Moody takes us across London and serves to remind us that the dead are a big problem, but humanity is often not much better.
Autumn: Dawn is a fantastic read from beginning to end. Not only does it feel like an Autumn story, it also feels fresh. Or as fresh as a zombie horror can be in 2021. I’ll be hungrily awaiting the next story in this trilogy.
Autumn: Dawn (David Moody)
The Final Score - 9/10