Book Review: Cathedral by Dave Jeffery (A Quiet Apocalypse Book 2)
Gifted British author, Dave Jeffery propels us back into the world of A Quiet Apocalypse with the subtle but effective sequel, Cathedral.
Cathedral was released via Demain Publishing on the 29th of January 2021 and was definitely my most highly anticipated story of 2021. To say I loved the story that started this journey off, A Quiet Apocalypse, is a massive understatement. I genuinely hold that book to being one of my favourite of recent, maybe all, time. If you want to read more words where I lavish praise on A Quiet Apocalypse, check out the full review here. Great stories don’t just magically appear on paper though. They come from the minds of great writers and trust me, Dave Jeffery is a great writer. Let’s have a little rant shall we?
We live in the age of too much where any average Joe or Jane can flood the internet with short stories, novels and novellas. Anyone can publish a story and claim themselves to be an author. It is the same for music. The time of quantity over quality. It isn’t that the quality isn’t there, it is just buried within a mountain of average. Now don’t get me wrong – the advances in technology that have opened up the door for independent authors and artists are generally fantastic but it does make it much, much harder to get noticed and that sucks.
My point though in short is that Dave Jeffery, in another era, would be one of the most heralded authors we have in the UK. Everyone would have read A Quiet Apocalypse and Cathedral would have been the most hotly anticipated follow up to a story in recent memory. That’s not to say that Dave Jeffery is an unknown. He isn’t thanks to many well received and much lauded stories including the YA Beatrice Beecham series, the apocalyptic Necropolis Rising series, Bad Vision, Frostbite and many, many more.
Back to the point of this article though now and my very high expectations of the follow up to A Quiet Apocalypse – Cathedral.
CATHEDRAL … The world has changed. So have the rules.
In the silence of a quiet apocalypse, there is Cathedral. It is a city like no other, sanctuary for the survivors of a terrible plague that has deafened the world. The walls protect the small community. Rituals and laws maintain order to prevent a return to chaos.
But Cathedral is a dangerous and complex place. For citizens like Sarah and newcomer Paul it can be either home or prison.
They just have to decide where their loyalties lie…
I think the best place to start in summarising my thoughts on Cathedral is back with A Quiet Apocalypse as, while I think Cathedral would work well enough as a stand alone story, it’s greatest impact comes with the scene already set through it’s predecessor. A Quiet Apocalypse introduces us to a world that has changed considerably in the aftermath of a mutant strain of meningitis called MNG-U. The majority of the population has been wiped out by the virus while the vey few survivors were mostly left completely deaf. Then we have the two minority groups of people who are so pivotal to the story, those who didn’t lose their hearing and those that were already deaf pre virus.
The world is bleak and, as so often described, when things go to shit, humanity often gets shitter. The lack of hearing sees those that can’t hear capture those with hearing and treat them as animals. Guard dogs I guess but only in name, not in treatment where terrible things like the mutilation of legs to prevent escape is common. It’s a bleak, dark and quiet world.
Nearing the end of A Quiet Apocalypse, we hear word of the city of Cathedral. Located where Birmingham once was, Cathedral is a heavily fortified city populated by those who were left deaf by the virus. They have banded together, elected a leader and made themselves safe. Forming their New World Order, they have their own rules and their own ways designed to ensure humanity survives into the future. On the face of it, it all sounds very necessary and very noble but when the surface is scratched, you may not always like what is found beneath.
Cathedral survives through fear and paranoia really. Driven by their inability to hear, they have taken any and all means to protect themselves from the Harks (those who hear) and from the Harbingers (those who were always deaf). Harbingers in particular seem to be one of the driving motivators of Cathedral. Harbingers, so named as they are unscientifically linked with bringing forth the death and disease from MNG-U, are despised. The message driven from the top down in Cathedral is that they represent everything wrong in the world and whenever possible, they should be captured, tortured and killed so as to prevent anything like this happening again. But also for retribution. Harks however are useful in small numbers if they can be chained, and tamed and used as dogs to patrol the town borders.
Like I said, look a little deeper and maybe things aren’t quite so noble. So our story is narrated by a citizen of Cathedral. A young lady named Sarah. It is through Sarah’s eyes and words that we learn of how Cathedral came to be and how it ensures it remains. We learn of the hierarchy within and the laws and rules put in place and abided by that ensure no return to the old ways and protection from the much maligned Harks and Harbingers that live outside of the city walls.
There are plenty of rules ranging from you needing to be an asset to Cathedral all the way through to what you can, or can’t speak/type. A fierce dictatorship, perhaps, but with every human need catered for and a dangerous world outside, you can see why Cathedral would be the destination of choice. From accommodation to food to companionship to a monthly rotation of “mates”. Cathedral offers a lot, but expects a lot in return. Another benefit of Cathedral and one of the most important parts of their whole new civilisation is the use of tell-pads.
A tell-pad is a device that is used by those who are deaf in Cathedral as a means to communicate. A screen, with a keyboard, the citizens type and display messages to each other to communicate. An especially useful device as things like sign language are also banned being seen as tools of the Harbingers. It also adds another interesting angle to the story knowing that all speech read by you is actually messages typed on a tell-pad.
So, back to Sarah. A good citizen by all accounts. She is popular and believes in the code of conduct. Generally, she seems quite content in her life with only a few small hints of her past life as a musician coming to the forefront. Perhaps sub consciously she harbours more of a desire for days gone by than she dares let on? Still all is well in Sarah’s world until one fateful day a group of Samaritans (the term for “soldiers” of Cathedral who venture into the wilds to rescue those left deaf by the disease, to capture Harks and Harbingers, and to source supplies) return from an expedition. They have two men with them, both “saved” by the Samaritans and brought to Cathedral. One, an older, weak and frail man and the other, a younger, healthier looking man called Paul.
It is Paul that becomes a telling component of our story, and of Sarah’s. Sarah exerts her influence to get Paul to herself for the next Mate Month to try to satisfy her unexpected yearning for the man. Paul struggles to adapt to life under Cathedral’s rules though. For anyone from outside the city walls, it is a significant change but with Paul, you quickly feel there is more to him than meet’s the eye.
Sarah seems obsessed, perhaps struggling to deal with a true feeling of love and desire dulled out by the many years of “government” approved mates? As their relationship blossoms, so too grows the risk to themselves as Sarah’s emotional state starts to fall out of sync with the regimented ideals of Cathedral. In the wise words of Pat Benatar “Love is a battlefield” and Sarah needs to choose a side.
Cathedral is a really strong entry into this developing A Quiet Apocalypse world. While there is cross over into the first instalment, Cathedral is a stand alone tale that helps to expand the universe greatly. I would say that while I think it would still be immensely enjoyable as a story of it’s own, the real pay off comes when you have read A Quiet Apocalypse. Never mind the fact that it is a phenomenal story anyway so why haven’t you read it? Here is your link – A Quiet Apocalypse – now off you go!
At face value, it is an exciting little apocalyptic tale with tell-pads and harbingers, good guys and bad guys and of course love but the thing that elevates this story and series so far is the deep and thought provoking philosophical questions littered throughout. Whether around the impact of regimented companionship on a person, especially when then faced with true feelings and an inability to cope with them. Or the need for humanity to have a scapegoat to everything negative that happens to them, be it another individual, circumstance, luck or, in this case, deaf people. How about the carnal desire to gather in packs and to follow blindly anyone or anything that offers some form of stability.
It’s deep and really gets your cogs turning as you picture yourself in similar situations and wonder “what would I do?” Cathedral is paced really well and allows you to get to know characters and absorb locations while harbouring a slowly building sense of dread. I very much enjoy being given time, and enough detail, to really get to know a character and Dave Jeffery is a master of that. My one complaint is that it is very short.
That annoys me because I want more, more, more. Also, because my re entry to the world was short lived and I fear I may have to wait a while now for a revisit. I guess even my negative is a positive for the story of Cathedral as I am only really upset that I have finished it. It’s a fascinating world and I want, and hope for much more. I have questions, so many questions, like, I want to know more about the Samaritans. I want more viewpoints like that of the much maligned Harbingers. What of other communities? So many questions.
So yet again, I come out of a Dave Jeffery book being filled with nothing but admiration for the man’s story telling capabilities and having thoroughly lost myself into one of his worlds. Again. He is a truly talented author and Cathedral is another story of the highest calibre. Do yourself a favour and read this book and A Quiet Apocalypse now.
Grab yourself a copy of Cathedral from Amazon, here.
Dave Jeffery Links
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Cathedral by Dave Jeffery (A Quiet Apocalypse Book 2)
Book Title: Cathedral
Book Author: Dave Jeffery
Publisher - Orgnization: Demain Publishing
The Final Score - 9/10