Horror Book Review: Autumn: The City (David Moody)


One day 99% of the population just died. Their throats swelled up & they suffocated on their own blood. The 1% that survived went into shock; hiding away lost & scared while trying to make sense of the madness that took place.

A few days later many of the dead got back up…

The City doesn’t follow on from the first book…those characters are off doing their own thing. Instead we go back to the start & meet Donna & Jack who separately go through the outbreak of mysterious infection watching those around them die.

Unlike the first in the series, The City doesn’t dwell on it & in a short few pages the dead are back up & walking to the shock of our first characters.

Donna meets Paul & Jack meets Clare…the 2 separate pairings branch out to try & survive in a city filled with the dead. At this stage the dead have not become the threat they were at the end of the first book & it is fascinating to see this change through the eyes of other characters.

While all of this is going on another larger group is introduced staying on a local college campus. This group have banded together to survive but it has been a struggle. They don’t understand what is going on but are distracted by the despair such a large group brings as well as a heavily pregnant woman.

Considering the size of the group only a few characters are given development here. Phil Croft, a doctor is the unofficial leader tasked with delivering the soon to arrive baby. The tension in the group to see if the baby will survive once born is felt as the reader. You’re just waiting for that first breath…I won’t spoil it for you.

Donna, Paul, Jack & Clare all end up at this building as the zombie hordes become more & more of a threat.

The 2nd part of the book deals with the military…particularly a unit hidden underground while the devastation took hold above. Nerves shredded, the upper brass of the base order a unit out to investigate (although they are smart enough to make them wear bio-hazard suits). They drive to the centre of the city shocked into silence by what they think are plague victims. Once out of the vehicle they discover the worst & come under attack from the dead causing panic.

In this panic 2 soldiers are left behind, Cooper & Thompson with the latter taking his helmet off exposing himself to the airborne threat & dying almost instantly.

Alone & being chased by the walking dead, Cooper has no choice but to abandon his unit & after suffering an accident that breaks his helmet he discovers that he is immune from the disease as well.

Meanwhile Michael & Emma from the first book have been surviving on the road in a large RV keeping away from the dead as best as possible. It’s not a comfortable life but they are still alive & that is enough…until they see the movement of soldiers to & from the underground base & their hope is ignited again.

Eventually Cooper ends up at the campus which has become a beacon for the zombie hordes with all the noise being made by the survivors inside. It is completely surrounded by thousands of the dead streaming out of the city. With supplies getting low, a small group led by Cooper come up with a plan to secure prison vans from the nearby courthouse & get out of the city back to his base.

The bodies are rotting but not fast enough & the dead just keep coming….

The 2nd Autumn book is a much more faster-paced story then the first. It doesn’t dwell for long on the why’s of the disaster but instead focuses on survival as the threat worsens. This allows more individual stories to be told & much more character development. You get to know many of the survivors so actually care when they are putting their lives at risk.

In the first book I praised just how descriptive the state of the dead was & in this it is even better. You can see every bit of rot on a zombie & the sheer scale of dead in the city is terrifying. Their threat is never under-stated even though they aren’t the flesh-eating type.

The book deals with many different characters views on just what the end of the world is. How they handle it & where they go from here. I loved that some characters just wanted to go on the bender of all benders.

That feeling of no hope transmits to the reader & any chance that is offered to the survivors is eagerly lapped up. Rarely does it turn out well for both though…

Autumn: The City (David Moody)
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