Book Review: Chokehold by David Moody

Chokehold by David Moody - cover
“Moody has once again hefted his barbed wire baseball bat and knocked it out of the post-apocalyptic park, comfortably maintaining his reign as the Babe Ruth of British horror.”

 

Spoiler alert! This review contains some spoilers for previous Hater books. If you haven’t read them yet we recommend you do so before reading this review. 

The concept of the country being split in two and the two disparate tribes waging war against each other may feel like it’s been the lead story on the evening news for the last three years, but David Moody effectively foretold it in 2006 with the publication of Hater, the opening book in his first trilogy of the same name.

Fast forward thirteen years and while the news shows no sign of changing its tune anytime soon, Moody is bringing his second Hater trilogy to a thrilling close with Chokehold. Picking up directly from the explosive climax of the previous novel, All Roads End Here, and set between Dog Blood, the second book in the first trilogy and Them Or Us, the conclusion of both that trilogy and the entire saga, Chokehold takes a deep dive into a pivotal battle that took place between those two books.

With the entire population forced to regroup and fight just to stay alive, both Haters and Unchanged retreat to one of the few remaining habitable regions of the country and find themselves camped less than two dozen miles from each other. With both camps desperate to survive their leaders are determined to ensure victory by wiping the others out.

Six books into a series there is always the danger of familiarity breeding contempt, but with Chokehold effectively acting as both a sequel and a prequel Moody instead harnesses this potential pitfall and uses it to his advantage. With the first trilogy being told from the perspective of a single person, Danny McCoyne, there were places and events that the reader only heard about but that were crucial to the story, leaving them curious as to what was happening in other parts of the country.

This second trilogy has allowed Moody to take the reader to these places and to have them experience these events as they happened, particularly with Chokehold which brings together some of the major characters from both trilogies to engage in the last major battle, and an important turning point, in the final war.

As ever Moody’s characters are incredibly well-drawn, with the new arrivals integrating seamlessly with those already established in the previous novels to create a whole new smorgasbord of conflict and tension. One of Moody’s great strengths as a writer is in delivering believable three-dimensional characters that encapsulate the human experience, while expertly incorporating just enough cliché and stereotype to reflect reality without ever having them feel clichéd or stereotypical.

Moody has once again hefted his barbed wire baseball bat and knocked it out of the post-apocalyptic park, comfortably maintaining his reign as the Babe Ruth of British horror. With the Hater series now coming to a satisfying end, readers can console themselves with the knowledge that among his upcoming projects Moody is planning a return to his other superb universe, Autumn, which will no doubt be as compulsive and essential as this return to the Hater war has been.

RICHARD COSGROVE

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Hardback:  348 (pps)
Release Date: 19 November 2019

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