"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Monday, March 8, 2010

Aleksandr Voinov Reviews “Day 94” by D M Slate

Day 94 by D.M. Slate  

Book Blurb:
In the wake of a large meteor collision, a fast-spreading disease epidemic is unleashed upon rural Colorado Joslin, Grant and their two young children find themselves barricaded within their home as the city is quarantined and the fight for survival begins; battling an airborne disease, lack of electricity and running water, starvation, frigid Colorado winter temperatures and worst of all morphs. The family embarks on a journey that tests their strength, sanity and conviction to live. 

As the morphs, carriers of the disease, become more numerous and aggressive, Joslin and Grant realize they'll have to defend their home to protect their children.  As each strand of hope frays away, the risks they must take in order to survive grow larger - until at last, Grant is attacked by a morph.  Knowing he's been infected, Grant leaves his family to fend for themselves. 

Just when Joslin thinks things can't get worse, her morphed husband returns to their home on day 94.  Crazed and delusional, Grant is determined to get into the house.  Joslin's unwavering desire to save her children drives the assault, knowing it may cost her life in order to stop her husband, Grant.

Book Length: 22,000
Publisher: Eternal Press

This little horror novella (a mere 22thousand words) packs quite a punch. I started reading after a long day at work, trying to catch up with my book pile, and I have about an hour of commute. Normally, I drop the book at the door when I get home. I need to check emails, after all. There are very few books that "make it past the door", but in this case, I needed to know what happened next. So I made myself a coffee (while reading), toasted a bun (still reading) and ate it (while reading).

The test of any good horror/suspense story is – can I put it down? In this case, “Day 94” passed with flying colours. I couldn't. It's tightly written and plotted, with twists that keep you on the edge of your seat, like it or not. I finished this in one go, and I had a great time throughout.

The premise is horrifying all by itself. A family gets trapped in their house, while civilization crumbles around them. A mysterious plague transforms people into 'morphs', this author's take on zombies. Under siege, hungry, cold, terrified, the mother, Joslin, writes a diary. Re-reading it, she thinks about the entries and comments on them, while facing the challenges that are ahead: finding food, keeping her children alive, and facing the greatest fear of them all – an ally who has turned into 'the enemy'.

There is more than a dash of "The Shining" by Stephen King in there, the crazed husband trying to break down the door with an axe, and Grant, subsequently, in my mind, looked like Jack Nicholson. That's not a bad thing – it's a classic, written by one of the masters of horror.

The book has a few issues, of course, and some aren't even the writer's fault. On my reader, the ebook started with the climactic battle, then stops, and then comes copyright and author's name and then the book actually starts, jolting me right out, until I realised that this was just the cover blurb. In paperbacks, I don't like that kind of formatting, and I skip it, but in ebooks, I loathe it. It gives away too much of the book, and starting something with the most dramatic scene and then ripping the reader right out didn't win any brownie points with this reader. The formatting that shows that it's an excerpt comes through nicely on the PDF, but on the ereader looks exactly the same. Please change that.

Secondly, the editing could have been better. "Through" is spelled "thru" several times, and I thought, OK, that's the first person narrator's quirk, but then it became "through", so I assume it was passed over in the editing. There were a few instances of missing words and commas as well, which have a way to jar me out of the text. And in such asuspenseful text, that's not what I want to think about. I want to fear for the characters' survival rather than think "hang on, there's a 'the' missing".

The information we get about the author is that it's a debut, and there are a few insecurities. Joslin and the other characters could use a little more depth, the story could be a little longer, maybe another five to ten thousand words more. The text veers wildly between past tense and present tense, confusing me a bit about when the action takes place (and not just in the diary entries). In places, I would have wanted more detail to really feel more of it, but, for those small flaws, the story passed the real test: I couldn't put it down. The author has an excellent feeling for suspense, which many more advanced writers don't have, and the sheer tension of the text overshadowed the little glitches in craft and editing.

Well done, Mrs Slate.

Reviewed By:
Author Name: Aleksandr Voinov
Author Website: www.aleksandrvoinov.com

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In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.