BOOK REVIEW: Autumn Aftermath by David Moody

Bestselling horror author, David Moody, returns with the fifth and final Autumn novel. Written over a span of ten years, the Autumn story follows two disparate groups of survivors and their battles to survive a world overrun by the living dead. But while years may have passed for us readers, the survivors are only moving into winter now: this shift in seasons plays a pivotal role in Aftermath’s story.

Aftermath begins from the perspective of the living dead, a young woman called Jessica Lindt, now wandering in the wastegrounds of post-apocalyptic Britain. And this too is quite significant, Aftermath not only being the most character-focused of the series when it comes to the survivors, but the dead also: there are significant changes within both the personality and behaviour of the book’s ‘zombies’ that have serious implications upon the survivors and their plans for long-term survival.

Most of the story centres around an old castle where a twenty strong group of survivors have taken up residence. The castle, no stranger to sieges in the past, is now surrounded by thousands of dead bodies, making supply runs something of a problem. Food and water is limited. Tension begins to mount.

Pressure is the main currency here. How it grows amongst the survivors, what it does to them, what it makes them do to each other. And herein lies a major strength of the book; Moody pulls no punches in his no-frills character study. As the siege continues, and cabin fever sets in, the survivors eventually turn on each other. This power struggle is the core of Aftermath’s story. As in the very first modern zombie story, Romero’s 1968 film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a dispute between key figures results in tragedy. And that single event causes a rift between the survivors that could spell doom for everyone.

But let’s not forget the dead, those hapless beasts clawing at the castle walls. As their bodies continue to deteriorate, the survivors begin to suspect that their days of being a threat are numbered. A bitter frost gives an even greater advantage, many of the outside hordes finding themselves literally frozen on the spot, allowing the survivors considerable room for manoeuvre in the outside world. But the discovery of more secluded bodies, better preserved than those in the open, leads to a shocking discovery about the dead’s raison d’etre, and a key turning point for the living.

The Autumn series is as realistic an account of the zombie apocalypse as you’re going to find. Aftermath is an emotional book: a fitting end to a traumatic story about the human condition. Fans of the series will feel satisfied, if not a little sad at waving goodbye to those characters they’ve spent time getting to know. And with a beautifully emotive afterword from the author himself, you know that David Moody is right there with them.

AFTERMATH is available now throughout the US through St Martin’s Press. The book will see release through Gollancz in the UK later in the year.

Visit David online at his official website or visit his LAST OF THE LIVING site to read over 120 K words of free Autumn fiction.