Most folks who are regulars to the site will know that fellow hack, David Moody, and I are something of a double-act within the world of genre fiction. Maybe it’s our shared fascination with the end of the world, or a tendency to write about a certain grey-faced bogeyman, but for one reason or another we’ve found ourselves doing a lot of events together and, needless to say, have become very good friends over the years.
What you may not know (although I do shout about it all the time in interviews and the like) is that I first met Dave as a fan of his work. I’ve got a signed copy of Dave’s debut novel, STRAIGHT TO YOU, that’s dated April 2005 (the book itself is a first print hardback published in 1996). And while I thoroughly enjoyed it back then, the rewrite, released just today through Infected Books, is a different beast altogether.
In the new edition, we meet Steve and his partner Samantha at a very trying time in their relationship. Unlike the 1996 edition, where Steve and Samantha had just got together, we find them in 2014 as a married couple having just suffered a miscarriage. The resulting strain upon their relationship is played out brilliantly and brutally and you can really feel the couple’s pain: Steve doing what men do best; internalising all the pain, drinking heavily, falling behind at work, becoming reclusive; Samantha pushing to make him open up and talk about things. Ultimately, the couple split, Sam leaving to spend time with her father in North Wales, who as it happens, really doesn’t think our Steve’s good enough for his little girl.
This is an apocalyptic horror novel that wears its dark heart proudly on its sleeve, plenty of gore and suspense and terror to enjoy. But as with all Moody’s books, where STY really excels is with the characters. There are a lot more of them now, the 96 edition being more of a one-man sprint across country. Here, Steven starts his journey with another man named Roy, someone he met once at a party but feels sorry for and agrees to give a lift to. The dialogue between these two very different characters brings some much-needed levity to an otherwise very bleak story, as well as grounding the book further, giving a shared commentary of a world (quite literally) going to hell. I found their aimless and uneducated chatter much more palatable than the pseudo science we’re usually fed in books and movies of an apocalyptic fare, where much of our time is spent in some government research lab or crisis room, theorising. Here, there is no military. There are no scientists or government ministers, only the people on the ground and the talking heads on TV and radio. Refreshing, to say the least.
In some ways, I was reminded of the recent vamp movie, STAKE LAND, when reading STY. It’s a very different story, but Steven’s journey has a similar feel to that of the kid and the enigmatic Mister, travelling across the rugged, post-apocalyptic terrain to find their promised land. THE ROAD is another reference point. Fans of those two movies should definitely find a lot to like here, too.
In short, STRAIGHT TO YOU 2014 is an engaging and heart-breaking read, further cementing Moody as the go-to-guy for extraordinary stories starring ordinary people. It should appeal to horror fans and sci-fi fans alike, as well as those who just like a damn good story.
I really think you should buy this book.
For more details on STRAIGHT TO YOU or any of David’s other books, visit his official website.