I usually don’t have that much trouble putting a book down. Most of the time I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen next and even if I don’t, it takes a lot of suspense to keep me reading beyond my usual half-hour morning session on my stationary bike or in the evening before I go to sleep. I’m not impressed by either vampires or zombies. This book, however, was another story, literally and figuratively.
Not only was the suspense palpable, it sucked me into a world that in some ways was too familiar. All quality fiction transports the reader to another place and/or time, but it’s usually relatively easy (at least for me) to separate the story from reality. Not so with this one.
Apocalyptic/dystopian fiction has been extremely popular the last few years, which isn’t surprising given the state of the world. Things have gone crazy and have been heading that way for several decades. There are end-of-world prophecies from various religions and cultures with the signs that they are near clearly upon us. The world has ended before and will again. It’s just a matter of time. Things can change dramatically overnight, as we witnessed with the events of September 11, 2001. As pervasive as that influence was, however, life did manage to go on, at least for those who weren’t directly affected. I think most of us suspect that we’ll have some warning, if no more than a bad feeling, before, as the preppers say, when TSHTF.
But will we?
This story begins in the here and now. A somewhat normal but bad day for the protagonist, Dan, who loses his job. The next day a predawn windstorm comes through, doing what amounts to moderate damage. Except for the fact that as far as Dan can tell, he, his wife and daughter are the only ones left alive. Vehicles of all descriptions are askew on the roadways, their drivers dead. The neighbors are dead in their bed. Animals mysteriously seem to have been spared. Unlike most apocalyptic stories, the world itself is unharmed. The power is still on as well as the internet but there’s nothing to be found in any media source that even hints at anyone else on the entire planet being alive. Unlike other apocalyptic stories where some sort of natural or man-made catastrophe sets things off, in this case there is no known cause.
So now what?
Dan and his family live in Switzerland on what could most easily be described as a comfortable homestead. They have a large home with a guesthouse surrounded by a well cared for yard and a garden. He and his wife are educated people with some idea how to take care of themselves. Since there is no massive destruction other than the pervasive loss of life, they can go to the store and get whatever they need, which they do. Their actions under the circumstances reflect what most of us would do and reflect today’s world. For example, he ran a Facebook ad looking for others.
The story depicts how the world changes with the people gone. The skies are clear and blue, wildlife, packs of dogs, and vegetation start to take over. After a while they get paranoid as they wonder if any other survivors might be hostile. Dan’s young daughter goes into a depression as she realizes she will never share her life with anyone besides her parents. The realism and level of detail in this first person account are chilling and too easy to imagine. But why has everyone died? Or conversely, why has Dan and his family survived?
I don’t want to get into spoiler territory so will leave it at that. There are numerous interesting plot developments and a few more surprises. I will say that the majority of questions are answered by the conclusion and the explanations are not as far-fetched as you might expect, again adding to the rather alarming message underlying this brilliant novel.
The human species remains barbaric in spite of our technological achievements. We are not taking care of our planet as we should. Wars are everywhere and violence in the name of religion has got to be the ultimate travesty. Different animal species care for each other better than too many humans. They have evolved more than we have.
If you had the power to do something about the status quo what would you do? “Daimones” describes one scenario that’s real enough to give considerable pause to the next predawn windstorm. The next volumes in this trilogy are definitely on my list and are bound to be extremely gripping as well. You can get your copy at Amazon here.