Have you been to England’s capital city, London recently? That’s not the smell of the Thames stinging your nostrils. It’s the stench of death. Hundreds of thousands of dead bodies rotting on the cobbled streets of Wapping High Street, in the corners of Soho, on the greens of Greenwich Park and in the bowels of the tube. Bodies that dropped down dead inexplicably. The end of the world as we know it.
Then the bodies got back up and started to gravitate towards the few ‘lucky’ ones who didn’t die. The few remaining vestibules of humanity. Lost, confused, and terrified. The dead are drawn to them as the world is so quiet and what is left of humankind is not.
At first, the dead (zombies for want of a better word) seemed harmless enough but as time has gone by, they have begun to change, becoming more dangerous and violent. Obsessed with the living, the slightest noise is enough to draw a few who inevitably draw more and more and more.
This is a slight overview of what the wonderful and talented British author David Moody wrote about in his beloved Autumn series. Beginning in 2001 and ending in 2012, spanning 6 books in total. It’s a world that we and so many others revealed in, sad to see it end.
However, there were more stories to tell and in 2021 Moody returned to the rot-encrusted world he created with a new Autumn trilogy. One set in the capital city of England. See? That opening paragraph wasn’t just me waxing lyrical about the city I live in.
Released in 2021, Autumn: Dawn dropped us right back in the world of the dead but on a scale not seen before. In the original series, major cities were avoided (mostly) as the living knew the dead would be there in mass quantities. Those that had lived through the incident that created so much death and destruction within these cities? They’re all dead anyway.
Autumn: Dawn decided to focus on these people. People who woke up one day to find the city they sleep-walked through had been transformed around them. People who were trapped within the walls of flesh that the dead had created around the city.
It was like meeting up with an old friend. One who you hug, notice the stench of rot, and then accidentally pull an arm off when you break the embrace. It’s a book that answered the question of if David Moody could hit the extraordinary highs that he reached with the original Autumn series. An answer that was a definitive yes.
Which brings us to this book, Autumn: Inferno. The 2nd in the London trilogy and one of Moody’s best stories within this world to date. Big words but justified, thanks to different ideas, some of his best characters and an ending, that you can see coming, but can barely read thanks to the tension. Read you will though, as this is a story that you just can’t put down.
The story picks up after the events of Dawn as the groups of human survivors band together around the Tower of London. Thanks to the building itself (designed to keep people out), the ever-expanding group (over 300) have grown in confidence and are envisioning taking the streets of London back, one by one.
Of course, the dead are a problem. Especially as this many humans gathered in one place and the noise of their expansion has drawn just about every zombie in London to them. Well placed and well defended barricades keep them at bay for now, but the danger is increasing.
For starters, many people within the community are beginning to lose hope. The new survivors (Dawn’s group) have seen what it is like out there and don’t agree with the constant pushing forth to take more streets. They see the danger of the dead and the weaknesses of the community.
Though all of that might be immaterial as food, water and medicine is in short supply. There is no chance of a group this size getting through the winter and the eventual rotting away of the dead without more… a lot more.
Maybe the other side of the river holds a treasure trove of goodies? Or is that nothing more than a distraction?
An incredible read, David Moody turned London in something truly horrific with Dawn and here, he expands upon it. Regardless of if you’ve walked the same streets that are now teeming with rotting corpses or have never stepped foot in it before, you’ll see it all clearly. Such is the consistent descriptive style of this author. That also applies to the events and, of course, the dead. You’ll smell them within the pages.
One area that we’ve criticised before in the original Autumn series related to characters. Finding some of them faceless and interchangeable. Dawn changed that and Inferno builds on that. Not since his Hater series have I found myself caring about characters in such a way. These are the living and they deserve to live. Well, most of them.
Autumn: Inferno is an absolute blast from beginning to end. One that fits within the Autumn world, expands it just enough and sets up, what is sure to be, a blistering finale.
Autumn: Inferno (David Moody)
The Final Score - 10/10