Acclaimed British author of fantasy, science fiction and horror, Dave Jeffery, returns with his latest tale called A Quiet Apocalypse, brought to us via Demain Publishing.
Dave Jeffery lives in Worcestershire in the UK with his wife and two children. He is the author of 15 novels, two collections, and numerous short stories. His Necropolis Rising series and yeti adventure Frostbite have both featured on the Amazon #1 bestseller list. His YA work features critically acclaimed Beatrice Beecham supernatural mystery series and Finding Jericho, a contemporary mental health novel that was featured on the BBC Health and the Independent Schools Entrance Examination Board’s recommended reading lists. Jeffery is a member of the Society of Authors, British Fantasy Society (where he is a regular book reviewer), and the Horror Writers Association.
You can check out some of our reviews of his books, as well as an interview by clicking on the relevant link.
Someone once said that the world would end, not with a bang, but a whimper. Yet when the time came, the world could have died screaming until its lungs bled, and most would not have been able to hear anything at all.
A Quiet Apocalypse is a short novel that takes post apocalyptic fiction in a new direction. The premise of the genre is generally that a virus or chemical weapon has wiped out half the planet leaving a horde of zombies or infected creatures roaming the lands while a small group of survivors move from one danger to the next while hunting for their version of truth. I couldn’t possibly count how many books I have read that are exactly that. Some good, some great but also all mostly very familiar and similar in setting at least.
So how excited was I to get my grubby mitts on another slab of apocalyptic fiction? Well, actually, very! Before turning a page this book had two key things going for it. Firstly, the author is a favourite. I don’t know how or why exactly but something about Dave Jeffery’s style of writing clicks with me. His words and way of delivering them grab my attention and hold it. The second thing? The title, A Quiet Apocalypse, draws me in. To me it is a bit of an oxymoron. The idea of an apocalypse has mostly always been portrayed in large scale, explosive carnage. It’s not quiet. In fact it is rather bloody loud, in my imagination. So, off to a good start right? Top author and top title and I haven’t even opened the book yet.
A Quiet Apocalypse focuses mainly on a man called Chris and his life in a world decimated and turned by a virus. That virus isn’t from space or the military and it didn’t create zombies or mutants or the like. Like the excerpt above states, the world went with a whimper. A vicious and incurable strain of meningitis spreads through the populace, killing off millions slowly and painfully. Something that, by the closing of the final page, may seem like a kindness. Of course not everyone died. That really would be a quiet apocalypse. The quiet part comes because a great many survivors of the infection were left completely deaf.
Those who had the infection and survived can generally be separated into three groups. We have those who survived and are now deaf, those who were already deaf in the first place and then we have a much smaller amount of people who can hear still. In this new, terrifying reality, hearing has become the most precious of commodities. Just like the oil and gas it replaced, humans would and will do terrible things to get their hands on these precious commodities.
Chris falls into the bracket of still having his hearing. Not his freedom though. In this savage new world, those who can hear are hunted, captured and held as slaves. Their ability to hear being absolutely critical to the survival of those who cannot. It could be worse though. Those who were deaf before the event are considered the cause of the infection. They are hunted and slaughtered. Why? Scared and desperate people need someone to blame is pretty much the sum of it. A thoroughly depressing thought, more so because it is so accurate.
Chris isn’t faring much better. He is alive but haven’t lost everyone he held dear and being held prisoner by a terrible man called Crowley, he wonders whether life is better. Crowley is terrible. He captured and holds Chris to operate as his ears. To ensure Chris doesn’t try to escape, he has severely injured his leg and fitted him with a brace essentially massively reducing his mobility. Chris sleeps in a room no better than a cell, is threatened constantly, fed scraps and generally treated like an unloved pet. There is a small amount of sympathy for Crowley’s situation but his treatment of the very likeable Chris makes it short-lived.
As time passes though, a defeated Chris suddenly gets a little fire in his belly. After finding a radio in the grounds of his prison, he manages to pick up a broadcast. The broadcast tells of a safe zone for those who can hear. A place of freedom and security. A dream. He just needs a way to escape from his captor. Opportunity comes when a stranger, Paul, who can also hear arrives at Chris’ location. A man also following the broadcast. It’s time to leave and find this utopia known as The Refuge. A place of freedom in a desperate world and the perfect timing of the arrival of this stranger? It all sounds too good to be true!
I went in to A Quiet Apocalypse with ridiculously high expectations of the story and author. Still, previous reads of Mr Jeffery’s books have shown me that high expectations are the way to go. And did A Quiet Apocalypse meet my expectations? It surpassed them massively, smashing the very high bar already set by the author and becoming not just another excellent story but his best and my personal favourite of his works. It isn’t just a favourite of mine of the authors, it is one of the best books I have read in years. A true masterpiece and one that should be spoken about in years to come as one of those classic horrors from back in the day. It is the book that deserves the TV series or movie that would inevitably be terrible as they couldn’t capture Jeffery’s incredible story properly.
A Quiet Apocalypse is dark and scary. Thought provoking and sad. It gives you hope and then smashes it to smithereens with a sledge hammer. A genuine emotional rollercoaster of a book that takes tired cliches, rips them to shreds and replaces them with creativity and excitement. The characters are brilliant. Buying into the lost and defeated Chris is easy. Crowley is a terrifying person and one that truly invoked hatred, and occasionally pity. It is testament to the immense writing ability of Dave Jeffery quite how strongly I felt for the characters in the book.
I love it. It’s brilliant. One of the best books I have read in a long time. Do yourself a favour and don’t miss out. Grab a copy of A Quiet Apocalypse now from Amazon.
Dave Jeffery Links
A Quiet Apocalypse by Dave Jeffery
The Final Score - 10/10