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Book Review

Book Cover



Author: Darren Charlton
Publisher: Little Tiger Group
371 pages
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 78895 121 0
Publication Date: 06 February 2020

The world has fallen to a zombie apocalypse, yet within the islands of Lake Wranglestone, the surviving humans have made themselves an almost secure home. Almost, because when winter come and the lake freezes over the land bridge to the shore brings the dead...

Wranglestone (371 pages) is the debut novel from Darren Charlton.

We follow Perter, a teenager growing up in this new world. He is naïve to the point of recklessness for someone supposedly surviving against a planet of the dead. Charlton sets Peter up from the very start, from his lack of survival skills to the fact that he is very good with a needle and thread as potential walking dead meat. His overall lack of experience and desire for validation puts the whole colony in danger when Peter encounters an old man in a canoe.

The guy is both ingratiating, praising Peters ability with an axe and a little bit odd when he discovers that Peter does not have a snowflake. When the man attacks Peter he is saved by his father who kills the old man, however, his father does not know what Peter knows, that there is the man’s zombie wife hidden under some blankets. When he comes too, he sees the zombie apparently trying to drown his father.

Well this lack of experience and the threat to the colony means that the others turn against him. He finds solace in the arms of Cooper, another young man and the two of the start to explore the mainland region around the lake.

The adventure part of the novel explores a secret hidden from Peter and anyone who has been born after the apocalypse. This was quite an interesting part of the book and a welcome twist in a zombie novel, even if the idea has been presented before. I will not say where, as that will reveal the whole secret.

Laced throughout, Peter and Cooper's journey is the exploration of their growing relationship. That they are both male is totally ignored. I don’t mean that in a negative way as their sexuality is not made an issue, either by the author or the characters in the book. Their relationship is not portrayed as an issue anywhere or by anyone. What you do get is an accurate portrayal of teenage dating, well dating in general.

At the beginning both Cooper and Peter awkwardly hang around each other. We, the reader, have access to Peter’s thoughts, but Cooper doesn’t, so they do that whole thing where neither speaks for fear of rejection or even fear that the other person will say yes. It’s all authentically embarrassing, as these things tend to be.

I did think the story was weak on building up some of the background, so occasionally characters will behave in a way which didn’t always make sense and a little more time spent on exploring motivation would have served the story well.


Charles Packer

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