Book reviews

#RBRT The Dead City (A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller. The Dead Lands #2) by Dylan J. Morgan (@dylanjmorgan) Second helpings can be as good if not better than the first. And you won’t forget the baddie #TuesdayBookBlogs And, anybody for an ARC of Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies?

Hi all:

Yes, it’s August and #AugustReviews month. I got this book as an ARC but I hope it will be available soon and I’ll add the links when it does. It’s another book I got through Rosie’s Books Review Team and it’s the third book I’ve read by this author, and I’m sure it won’t be the last one. Oh, and if you read until the end I’m offering my own ARC.

The Dead City by Dylan J. Morgan (The Dead Lands 2)
The Dead City by Dylan J. Morgan (The Dead Lands 2)

The Dead City (A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller. The Dead Lands #2) by Dylan J. Morgan

I’m writing this review on behalf of Rosie’s Books Review Team and thank Rosie and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

I read the first novel in this post-apocalyptic series The Dead Lands not too long ago (read my review here) in preparation for the next novel. I enjoyed the first one (although I don’t read much in that genre, I had read another one of the author’s novels, and it had come very highly recommended) and was eager to see what would happen next.

The story picks up where the other one left of, or near enough. A much larger military expedition, this time headed by Colonel Paden, is sent to Hemera, officially to rescue the survivors of the first mission, but in reality to recover the treasure and wealth of the city that Paden has been assured is still there. Anybody who’s read the first novel knows that all the members of the mission are in for a surprise. Although they’ve been told there are some hostile life forms in the planet (that’s more than the first mission knew), nothing has prepared them for the mutated ever hungry creatures they meet.

The style of the story is very similar to the first one. It’s also written in the third person, with each chapter or part of the narration told from a different point of view. I did mention in my previous review that it made for a fairly democratic experience, and a pretty uncomfortable one at times, and that’s again the case. We are in the shoes (or the consciousness) of soldiers, male and female, of all ranks, of those in charge and those following orders, of male and female mutants… It does not necessarily help create empathy for the characters, but many of them are not likeable (and some are utterly disgusting, and I’m not talking necessarily about the mutants that after all have no choice in the matter) nor do they need to be. Like in the first one (personally I thought perhaps more in this one than in the first novel) there are characters who are easier to root for, like Ryan and his sister Jayde, Marshal, Darrell, Laila, Boone… Murdoch and Paden are the official baddies, although nobody can compete with Paden. He’s gross and horrible and… Yes, so bad he’s good. The behaviour of most of the characters is more loyal and morally sound than in the first one, perhaps because these are military men and women among the best, rather than a problematic team handpicked to die and not be missed like in the first novel. There are moments of extreme loyalty and self-sacrificing behaviour that keeps it emotionally satisfying in parts (despite the body count).

Although there is not much in the way of back story (like happened in the previous one) we get snippets of personal history, for example the history of Ryan and his sister, and we learn the reasons for Murdoch’s hatred towards Ryan (and even get several versions of the story). Overall, the book is mostly about the now and the action and mission the soldiers get landed in. Despite traumatic memories, the soldiers have to remain focused on the task at hand if they want to survive and because we experience the story from the points of view of the different characters we, readers, also get into the action mode, fearing where the next attack might come from, if we’ll make it out of the sewers in time, and if there’s any future at all out of that rat hole.

The novel questions issues of loyalty and morality, and highlights the fact that following orders is not a valid excuse when it leads to extinction and it’s led by greed (Marshal and his hesitation about following Paden’s orders reminded me of Starbuck wondering if he should follow Ahab’s. Ultimately, and I’m not going to spoil the novel for anybody, Marshal’s call is the right one, duty or not. And after all Ahab has his humanities, whilst Paden…). Rampant materialism, self-interest, egocentrism and narcissism are weighted against team loyalty, discipline and team spirit.

There is no humour as such in the novel, although sometimes the contrast between the situation and the point of view of the character the reader inhabits can create moments of utter disbelief and even some unintendedly funny ones (Paden can be annoying, disgusting but also quite witty at times). And I couldn’t help but chuckle thanks to a lovely twist involving a particularly grand mutant (that in fact is the mirror image of the colonel).

There are also interesting observations about the mutants, who are perhaps not the wild slaughtering and devouring machines they appear at first sight that might hint at future changes to come.

The novel has plenty of violence (like in a video game), with fights, shootings, descriptions of weaponry and gore, destruction, nasty smells, biological functions run amok, and injuries described in painful detail. This is not for the fainthearted or those who are looking for a nicely wrapped up and happy ending. Although the ending is perhaps less dark than in the first novel, at least so it seems initially, it has a twist in its tale and it leaves many questions open, including the future of Erebus.

Who do I recommend it to? To lovers of the post-apocalyptic genre who are keen on action, and do not mind descriptions of battles, destruction and explicit violence. Also to those who like to experience stories that go beyond the comfortable following of an unambiguous hero. And I especially recommend it to those with a good stomach who love to hate their baddies. Paden is epic.

Thanks to Rosie and to Dylan J. Morgan, thanks to all of you for reading, and check the previous post too! And of course, like, share, comment and CLICK! Ah, and I got my book Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies back from the editor and I’d be happy to send ARC copies if anybody is interested (I hope it will be published some time in September, but it depends on how long the edits of the Spanish version take). If you want to read a bit more about it, check here.

Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies
Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies
Book reviews Rosie's Book Team Review

#Bookreview #RBRT Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan (@dylanjmorgan) Horror, twists and turns and a small-town legend that’s anything but… #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

I already told you last week I was reading a lot these days, and today I bring you another review, this one of a book I read as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. It’s a great privilege to form part of such wonderful team of people. And today, I bring you a scary one…

Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan
Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan

First, the description:

It feeds. It grows. The small town of Vacant harbors a secret so terrifying that the local lawmen will do anything to keep it hidden—including murder. Something sinister stalks the surrounding woods, a horrifying creature thought to be only a mystical legend. It hunts at night, killing with ravenous voracity. Deputies Carson Manning and Kyle Brady are the harvesters: they find the victims, tie them to the baiting post. Sheriff Andrew Keller and Deputy Matthew Nielsen are the cleaners: they dispose of the corpses. But when Vacant’s townsfolk take matters into their own hands, nothing can contain the slaughter. The deadly entity isn’t the only menace Sheriff Keller has to face. He has his own dark secret, a past he tries to hide behind frequent alcohol binges. Now that past has come back to haunt him and will throw him headlong into a traumatic situation that could mean life or death for him and those he holds dear.

And now, my review:

Flesh by Dylan J. Morgan  Horror, twists and turns and a small-town legend that’s anything but…

I am reviewing Flesh as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I’ve received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

I love horror. Books, movies, series… I’d read very good reviews of Dylan J. Morgan’s books and when I saw one of his books come up for review at Rosie’s team I decided to take the chance and read it.

You probably have read (and/or watched, if you’re interested in the genre) similar stories. Small town, something in the woods is killing people. The something might vary from book to book. Here the small town is not the wholesome small-town of cosy diners and picket fences, but rather the strange world of Blue Velvet (well, perhaps weird in a different way, a corrupt place full of drug-addicts, alcoholics, mad preachers, power-crazy mayors, and people prepared to do anything to keep themselves safe, even if it means others have to suffer). And the story is written in such a way that we don’t really know what we think we know, or rather, we don’t realise what we know until very close to the end. At least for me, the novel was full of surprises.

The novel is told in the third person, from quite a few of the characters’ points of view, the main characters. None of them, with the exception of Miranda, but she hardly appears in the first part of the book, are easy to connect with or sympathetic. The book opens with one of the character’s (although we are not told many things about her) extreme violence and a description of butchery that, being a doctor, I must confess had me wondering if some of the things were anatomically possible… As we see things from the character’s mind’s eye, the reading can be quite uncomfortable. On the other hand, at least for me, it didn’t work at the level of some scenes of extreme violence in Tarantino’s movies, for instance, when you might find yourself joining in and siding with the perpetrator. But perhaps that’s a matter of personal taste. The rest of the main characters are deeply flawed, addicted to alcohol, drugs, and egotistical. Matthew, newly joined deputy sheriff seems too good to be true, other than for his sexual relationship with a woman that also seems to break the rules (sex during work at the police station for instance), but until more than fifty per cent of the book has gone we don’t have much of a hero to root for. And then, things change. And how. (Also some new characters appear that add to the interest, but the biggest surprise is how the ones we knew already change.  Or we realise we didn’t know them quite as well as we thought.)

I’m not overtly fond of descriptions and the book is full of them, be how the characters are feeling (hangover, highs of drugs, sex, hot and sweaty…), clothes, food, drinks… Although well-written, I felt due to this the first half of the novel moves at a slow-steady pace, whilst the last half speeds up.

As you’ve probably noticed from what I’ve said, I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the book, where you feel much more invested and engaged with the characters and things get much more personal, not only for us but for some of the protagonists. It is a good way of rising expectations and interest, although there is always the risk that some readers might not follow the writer, but in this case it’s well-worth the patience. I won’t go into a lot of detail not to spoil the reading experience, but as I mentioned, it took me quite a while to work out the connections and the ins and outs of the plot. It’s very cleverly done.

Overall, would I recommend this book? Yes, if you love horror, and you like descriptive writing, both of horrific scenes and in general (there’s also a fairly explicit sex scene, be warned), and want to be taken by surprise (even shocked). And, a word of warning, whatever you think of the beginning, keep reading, because the second half of the book is fantastic.


If you want to check directly the preview, here it is:

Thanks so much to Rosie and to the author for this opportunity, thanks to you all for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, to REVIEW!

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