Black Tide

Author: Del Stone Jr
Telos Publishing
RRP: 7.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84583 049 6
ISBN-10: 1 8458 3049 0
Available 31 May 2007

Miller is a university professor of marine biology who takes one of his attractive students on a trip to a small island in the Santa Rosa Sound in the Florida Keys, to study the effects of pollution. Unfortunately, his opportunity to be alone with her is lost when she invites along her arrogant boyfriend Scotty. But that's the least of his troubles. A black tide of microbes is released into the river and cuts off their escape from the island. The tide brings with it an airborne cloud which attacks and burns the skin. Miller and his companions escape the assault by burying themselves in the sand, but the islanders are not so fortunate. They run, burning, into the water and do not emerge... That is until the night. Highly sensitive to light, they remain beneath the water waiting for the safety of darkness. Then like horrible parodies of human beings they rise intent on biting living beings and spreading their disease. How many nights can Miller and his party last? And is it safe to escape the island?...

Telos have made this book a very attractive package: a large format paperback, with good quality paper and a striking cover. I began reading Black Tide full of expectation, but soon became bored with the stereotyped characters and the hackneyed vampire / zombie format. I had to take several breaks in order to return to another, more satisfying book.

I'll admit that the name Del Stone Jr. held no recollection for me, and I was surprised to discover that not only has this writer had several short stories published, but his previous novel, Dead Heat, won the International Horror Guild's award and was runner-up for the Bram Stoker award. Furthermore, this novella has been optioned for a film.

All very impressive, you'll agree. However, although the story does improve with perseverance, it borrows from too many sources. People new to horror may well thoroughly enjoy this, but aficionados will have seen it all before. Perhaps it will work better as a movie, though the screenwriter and director will need to avoid the predictable set-pieces from the book.

Ty Power

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