Book Review: One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning by David Moody

“Moody has created a brilliantly tense novel that, while sharing DNA with John Carpenter’s seminal The Thing in that it’s effectively a single location exercise in paranoia and mistrust, is very much its own tale.”

 

Ever since the first Autumn novel appeared online way back in 2001, David Moody has steadily and decisively become one England’s most original and entertaining horror novelists. Taking his cue from what was then a subsection of the horror genre that was seemingly on its last legs, his Autumn series resurrected zombies in a clever and intelligent way, eventually giving us a sextet of books that are rightfully considered classics in the undead section of all good bookshops.

In 2006 Moody took on another genre that had all but reached its final destination, namely post-apocalyptic fiction, and produced a stunningly original take on the end of the world in the form of Hater, the tale of Danny McCoyne, an everyman who finds himself fighting for survival in a world where one half of the population suddenly want to kill the other half, irrespective of family, race, sex or any other traditional delineations. The Hater trilogy – rounded out by 2010’s Dog Blood and the following year’s Them Or Us – painted a bleak, nihilistic picture of a world gone mad, fuelled by the paranoia of being unable to determine who are ‘them’ and who are ‘us’ until it’s too late.

One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning returns to the Hater universe, taking us back to the start of the outbreak (for want of a better term) that we first witnessed through Danny McCoyne’s eyes in urban surroundings, but this time playing out on the remote island of Skek, located somewhere between the UK and Denmark, where a group of people are undergoing a team building exercise.

After a tragedy occurs, which may or may not have been accidental, and the subsequent discovery of a truly horrifying event, the fifteen people on Skek realise that not only are they trapped on the island as the body count begins to rise, but that they can’t be sure whether or not they can trust their fellow human beings, or even themselves.

With this latest entry, Moody has created a brilliantly tense novel that, while sharing DNA with John Carpenter’s seminal The Thing in that it’s effectively a single location exercise in paranoia and mistrust, is very much its own tale. The characters are believable and well rounded, each of them constructed of light and dark brush strokes that mean that the reader is never entirely sure whether their actions are borne of malice, deceit or just pure self-preservation. Under duress, the base human reaction is fight or flight, but take the latter option away and it’s difficult to be sure of the motives when the former becomes the only recourse in a confrontation. When it’s kill or be killed and even you can’t be sure of your own motives for doing so then how do you relate to others? How can you trust them when you’re not sure you trust yourself?

For reader who have already devoured the original trilogy, One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning offers a fascinating view of events from a very different perspective, and it’ll be interesting to see how the remaining pair of books in this second Hater trilogy dovetail into the existing universe, but even if the reader hasn’t read the first trilogy, One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning stands very nicely on its own (though we do highly recommend reading the first trilogy at the earliest opportunity).

One Of Us Will Be Dead By Morning proves once again that David Moody is a significant talent in the UK horror scene, delivering a sharp, insightful study on what it means to feel isolated, not only geographically but socially, and reminding us how uncomfortably quick we are to mistrust and turn on our fellow human beings. If you even remotely like tales of societal breakdown or post-apocalyptic fiction, this book is essential reading.

RICH COSGROVE

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover: ( 336pps)
Release Date:  5 December 2017

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