Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review: The Estuary by Derek Gunn

Permuted Press’ latest post-apocalyptic book is Irish author Derek Gunn’s zombie tale The Estuary. I haven’t read any of Gunn’s previous works (he is perhaps best known for his Vampire Apocalypse series), but my interest was piqued by The Estuary’s premise. I am usually a big fan of Permuted Press’ release, but I think they really dropped the ball with The Estuary…not to say that it is a bad novel by any means.

The Estuary begins with a covert Nazi mission where canisters filled with a secret weapon are being transported via mini-submarines to the front lines…but a storm takes the mini-subs perilously off course.

Fast forward to the present in the idyllic Irish hamlet of Whiteshead, where John Pender has relocated his family to try and rekindle his marriage and spend more time with his three kids. The idyllic setting is soon shattered when an old mini-sub is unearthed in the dried-up estuary and a mysterious gas leaks out of the long-dormant canisters.

The gas turns out to be a contagion that quickly infects all those that came into close contact with it. The infected turn into the walking dead who crave the flesh and blood of the living. Soon, the sleepy town is overrun with zombies and the survivors must find a way to safety!

Yet, when the remaining townspeople try to leave town, they find themselves quarantined by the army, who are prepared to use lethal force to contain the virus. The townspeople’s only hope for survival is reaching an old keep that juts up from the sea and is at the end of the estuary. But to get there they must traverse an ocean of the undead…

The Estuary had a very promising premise, but it suffers from a large number of problems that took away from my overall enjoyment of the book. The number one most annoying problem was the amount of typos in the book, which included everything from spelling, punctuation and grammar. For a published novel, the amount of typos in the book is unacceptable. Permuted Press really disappointed me with their severe lack of editing and/or proofreading. The typos are so bad that it doesn’t even appear that the book was proofread at all!

Secondly, I never felt any real connection to any of the characters and had a hard time keeping them apart. The repetition of the characters’ full first and last names every time they are mentioned was also distracting and led me to believe a new character was being introduced. Again, this could have been avoided if a good editor was used, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

As for the positives, there were some great action sequences, particularly towards the end of the novel. Gunn is able to write tension-filled scenes that kept me turning the pages. I really enjoyed the dwindling survivors making a run for it to get to the keep and their suspenseful last stand. Gunn’s descriptions of the infected are also excellent. These zombies don’t moan, grunt or make any kind of noise, but just silently stumble around. Their vacant, slack-jawed expressions are pretty darn frightening, especially coupled with the fact that they are so silent. They also aren’t exactly the slow, shambling type of zombies (nor are they fast sprinters), but instead can get to where they want to go pretty quickly. Gunn has created some very frightening monsters, especially since most of the survivors knew them as their former neighbors and friends.

Another enjoyable aspect of the story was the Nazi backdrop. I could have used a bit more on the Nazi’s and the background of the contagion, but the prologue did a good job of giving us a taste of the backstory.

The Estuary could have been a humdinger of a zombie novel, but unfortunately it is brought down by its many typos and lack of editing. Shame on Permuted Press for allowing a book with such potential to be released without proofreading and editing it first!! I really hope they get around to releasing a corrected version of The Estuary…because it really does deserve to be checked out typo-free!

Buy it on Amazon!

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