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Book Review

Book Cover

The Silence


Author: Tim Lebbon
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 78116881 3
Publication Date: 17 April 2015

Sometimes it's better off leaving things as they are. When an ecological expedition opens up a massive cave complex, in Eastern Europe which has been cut off from the rest of the planet, they release hundreds of creatures. Sickly yellow and the size of flying cats the creatures first attack the expedition before spreading out into the countryside. The creature are blind and hunt through sound, but what makes them especially dangerous is their ability to breed at an accelerated rate, meaning their numbers grow exponentially, creating millions of creatures which overwhelm and devastate any country they invade...

The Silence (2015. 363 Pages) is a new horror novel by Tim Lebbon. In parts, it’s fair to describe the book as horror, but given that much of the horror is created by the human population against itself, following the creature’s introduction to a different ecosphere, it would probably be more accurate to describe it as eco-horror. In this, the book is not dissimilar to John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, in that the creatures are not presented as inherently evil, it just so happens that they view humans as a very good food source.

The story is told, primarily from two perspectives. Ally lives with her mother, father and her brother Jude. Like most teenagers she feels a little cut off from her family, but in Ally’s case this is because she is deaf, following a car accident which killed her grandparents. The family have readjusted, even though it has left Huw, her father - the book's second point of view character - with a feeling that there are awful things in the world that he cannot protect his loved ones from. In this Huw will be proven correct.

The Vesps behave very much like locusts, swarming across vast areas of land attacking any mammals they intersect with. Like locusts, their numbers and relative small frame make them almost impossible to kill, destroy ten and their place is instantly filled with ten more. The creeping destruction is referenced via social media. Ally’s intense need to know means that she remains very connected with the world through her iPad, through this and the radio/television reports we witness the story of the fall of Europe and then the invasion of Britain.

You’ve got to love the author's almost complete faith that should the shit hit the fan the first thing people will do is be at each other’s throats. The post apocalyptic world is dangerous not just because the Vesps exist, but because so many other humans do, who are occasionally more dangerous to encounter.

Huw returns home and the family decide to try and make it to a family home in Scotland. As a family they have a distinct survival skill. The Vesps are drawn to sound, even very small ones and Ally’s enforced deafness means that the family have had to learn to communicate via sign language.

In tone the story has a very British feel to it, yes change brings challenges and the family have to readjust to their new reality but there are no bacteria or sea water to pull the heroes out of their inevitable fate.

Overall I liked the book, the pacing is good, Ally and Huw are sympathetic characters and the plot had a feeling of natural progression, even when sacrifices were needed.


Charles Packer

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