Monday 1 September 2014

Dark Review - Disease

Review of Disease by M.F Wahl

Review written by Casey Douglass


In my own opinion, the mark of a truly great zombie story is that the zombies aren’t the only threat. To varying degrees, the effectiveness of a tale depends on whether the zombies are more a background threat whilst the soap opera of human interactions plays out in the foreground. The risk with this approach however, is that if you sideline the shambling dead too much, some bright spark will ask “Why did you bother having zombies in it at all?”
I’m happy to report that M.F Wahl’s Disease gets the balance about right. The zombies are an ever present threat and integral to the story, yet the humans and their interactions are just as important.

The story begins with Casey and Alex as they forage in an abandoned house for food and supplies. Of course, it turns out that they are not alone and a frantic fight with one of “The Risen” ensues. This is another great thing about Disease. The skirmishes with the undead are vividly described and paced very well giving you a great feeling of the shit hitting the fan. They also happen plenty of times in the course of the story so any gore fans should find ample here to keep them grinning as they read.

Going back to Casey and Alex. Alex is a young boy who doesn’t speak. Casey is his carer and she looks out for him and worries that something might be quite broken inside him. At times he knows what is going on, at others he ignores things and gets lost in the details of a faucet or the contents of his backpack. As you can guess, someone apparently so switched off is a bit of a risk with zombies around. They are both discovered by a party from a nearby hotel and taken into the folds of a cult-like group which is run by the enigmatic Lot, a devious woman who, with a mixture of religion and fear, has a stranglehold on her followers’ minds.

To say too much more would be to give too much away. Suffice it to say that M.F Wahl has certainly achieved the task of showing that the zombies aren’t the only type of monsters in the world after an apocalypse. M.F also depicts very uncomfortable issues in just the right way, not going too in-depth but showing enough that the reader can read between the lines. I think that this is a great achievement and one worthy of highlighting here.

If I did have any criticisms, one might be that some paragraphs in the book feature shifts in viewpoint between two characters that sometimes worked and other times slightly disrupted my reading rhythm. This is a minor quibble though in what otherwise is a fine book.

I give Disease 4 out of 5. It is well written, interesting and paced in a way that will get you wondering what happens next.

Disease is being released as a serialized novel in six parts. Part One is available from Thursday the 18th of September with each new part releasing every Thursday thereafter until all are out. It is also being released in audiobook format.

You can check out W.F Wahl’s website here for more info and places you can buy them, and also read the first chapter for free.