Acclaimed British author, Dave Jeffery returns us to the captivating, dark and thought provoking world of A Quiet Apocalypse with the 4th book in the series called TRIBUNaL to be released via Demain Publishing on the 30th of June, 2022.
Almost as dark and depressing as the scenarios called up in the A Quiet Apocalypse series is the fact that TRIBUNaL is set to be the end of the series. All good things must come to an end, and an author of the calibre of Dave Jeffery will have creative muscles that need stretching but such is the quality of this series, I feel immensely sad while reading this. Like it represents a sort of goodbye. These books mean a lot to me, on a personal level. A statement I will expand briefly on at the foot of this review.
Since the first book, A Quiet Apocalypse reached me, I have been absolutely mesmerised by this world conjured up by Dave Jeffery’s imagination. The expansive second book, Cathedral, surpassed expectation, I think, and my expectations of Dave Jeffery are high. Since then, The Samaritan continued to blow me away and even the side step into a collection of talented authors offering short stories based in the world of A Quiet Apocalypse, A Silent Dystopia, was a marvellous treat.
Each book comes with cover art from Adrian Baldwin that absolutely perfectly captures the mood and feel of each story.
So we reach the end of the story now in TRIBUNaL. Something that instantly surprised me because, well, I have questions. Going in to this I felt that there were significant questions and points I wanted answers to or more information on. I didn’t need them, the story is filled out plenty. But I just wanted them. I struggled to understand how a single novel would possibly satisfy my demands but then I started reading and mocked myself for ever doubting Dave Jeffery.
You see, Dave Jeffery managed to find a way to write TRIBUNaL that is very different to the other stories in A Quiet Apocalypse. Stories where we follow characters and locations has changed here to a story following a process, a hearing (as they used to say), a TRIBUNaL. This story follows the process and in doing so, in so cleverly writing this way, we manage to move forwards and flesh out the past, linking everything together on the way.
The world has moved on, we are 50 years in the future, reading back through a historical record of a few years after the main event. Cathedral, the location, had fallen though the idea was not so quickly terminated and those captured during it’s topple faced justice. Justice at the hands of their most hated enemy, the Harbingers. A derogatory term, labelled upon the deaf. People believed, rightly or wrongly, to have somehow been the cause of MNG-U, the harbingers of death, suffering, loss and the cause of the loss of hearing. Cathedral, for all the good it did for it’s own citizens, for it’s, in some ways, noble aspirations became the victim of it’s hate.
If a persecutor persecutes enough people for long enough, they will do nothing more than cause unity between the persecuted. That is what Cathedral eventually achieved. It’s twisted desire for community and order through rules and violence essentially caused community within their victims. Harks and Harbingers were living in a pattern of hide to survive. Cathedral changed that really, reaching it’s ugly claws out and forcing the hidden to make a stand, a stand that succeeded and Cathedral fell.
So we read TRIBUNaL as we would a legal document, a historical record. We still follow character and stories, familiar ones, but this is based more now in retellings, statements and justifications as the new world order, the one without Cathedral aim to achieve two things. Justice but also understanding. Knowledge of what happened, and how it all came to be is seen as just as important as retribution here. How can one learn, if they don’t fully try to understand the the pain, loss and fear that drove once civilised citizens to become so at ease with murder, torture and segregation.
The Dunn Tribunal, as it was known, took place in 2039 with 3 panellists of community standing brought forward to make judgement, to ask questions, to learn and help create a document for the world to learn from in the future. The three panellists are Faith Goodwill, a CEO of a large charity that provide care and support to victims of global conflict, then there is Alexander Hope, a community expert with a focus on vulnerable children and adults and finally, Dr. Charity Young, a member of the UFDD (United Federation of the Def and Deafened) with a focus on the improvement of treatment for women in care and health services.
Three people who documented their thoughts, both on how they feel about the TRIBUNaL, and on those brought forward for questioning this creating this book, for us to read. The story continues with a reflective statement from Alexander Hope. An important move as it gives him character and helps us understand his, and the Tribunal’s motivations. His deep introspective feeling about the process and his place in it is meaningful. We move then into written statements from those captured during the taking of Cathedral.
All familiar names from the rest of the A Quiet Apocalypse series, we read statements from Alice Pearson, Cathedral’s Quartermaster. From Christopher Abolins, Sarah Goodman, Jasmine Gill, Nathan Stevens, Rose Collingwood and Terrence Stringer (Prefect). We also read witness statements from some involved in the taking of Cathedral. Sergeant Heather Menzies and covert operative, Michael Hill. After the witness statements, the record we read moves on to the Hearing. This is written as you would expect a court record with everything documented but keep in mind, the world is mostly silent, so the actual questions and answers would have been via Tell-Pad anyway so it is a realistic representation of what would have been happening in the room.
All the names above come forward for questioning at the hands of our 3 panellists. The questioning is handled well, with emphasis put on the events that led to each person becoming what they became. It isn’t a straight up finger pointing exercise, it is an attempt at learning and through that, we fill out and answer many questions we would have gathered over the course of this series. Something that works really well, and I think is how I would expect real life to be is how the questioning is handled. Mr Hope is of a more softly approach. He hands over his line of questioning to Faith Goodwill who is less patient and firmer before Charity Young takes up the line and is firmer still and has little patience for those being questioned.
It reads wonderfully and is intensely informative, deep and interesting. The reactions of those being questioned to the questioners, the strength of belief in how right they were, their staunch defence of Cathedral in many cases is interesting and difficult to read emotionally. It really does bring up many feelings throughout. I love that TRIBUNaL is making me think and learn in exactly the same way as was the point of the historical record for the wholly possible, but thankfully, currently, fictional future.
How much evil can a person suffer before they are broken? How far will a person go to find belonging? In a world so dark, so full of fear and horror, how accountable are we for the actions taken to survive? When the world lacks humanity, should we be expected to behave humanly or are we the cause of the lack of humanity?
A question that maybe only we can answer individually and with the final book of the A Quiet Apocalypse series, we can read all the evidence of the time gathered together and make our own judgement as the TRIBUNaL make theirs.
And so we reach the end, for now, because this series is immensely re readable. In fact, after TRIBUNaL, with so much depth and back story included, it almost feels like a prerequisite to start again and read through each book with my greater depth of understanding. I genuinely think the “historical record” style of writing this final book was a stroke of genius by Dave Jeffery. I can think of no better way to close the arc. It is a wonderfully interesting read. Supremely dark, intelligent and thought provoking. A fictional world that feels just a few steps away from reality and that is the truest of horror.
Despite all of this darkness, there is hope too though and that is important. A Quiet Apocalypse shows the very worst of humanity, but also shows the best. It shows how evil can be defeated if those with good intentions stand together.
TRIBUNaL is a fantastic book and a perfect ending to a phenomenal series. A series that just has to be read for it’s unparalleled entertainment but also as a bit of educational piece. An exploration of human psychology, a terrifying and believable look at what we are capable of but also a glimmer of hope, that even at our darkest, good can fight through.
Dave Jeffery Links
A Quiet Apocalypse, in it’s totality has been a very important series for me, on a personal level. All who know me well, know I have a tendency to suffer from depression. I have since child years and will forever but a benefit of long time suffering means I have ways of pulling myself out of darkly conjured scenarios. The most effective for me is escapism and the most effective forms of escapism, for me, come from heavy metal and a good book. It can’t just be any old thing, it has to work. An album that sucks me in, has me buy in to the content and context and makes me feel happier, or sometimes just not alone in my thoughts.
For a book, it has to capture me wholly, transport me to that world and out of mine and pull back the veil of humanity. Show me the best and worst of us all, make me see the what could be, and, sometimes what should be. Offer me darkness, offer me hope and put my mind to work. That is what A Quiet Apocalypse has offered me over the challenging last few years. A small, personal island to sit on in a drowning world. For that, I am eternally grateful to the series and the man behind them. Thank you.
TRIBUNaL by Dave Jeffery (A Quiet Apocalypse Book 4)
The Final Score - 10/10