Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.
One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.
It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.
The world has died.
This is the story of its remains.
Book – Withered + Sere
Author – T.J. Klune
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 280
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 3rd person, 1 MC
Would I read it again – Yes.
Genre – Apocalyptic, Alternative Future/History, a dash of Steampunk and a dash of LGBT
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
WARNING: cannibalism, rape – both mentioned very briefly and not in detail.
This is my first T.J. Klune book and it wasn’t what I was expecting. As a post-apocalypse novel, it was truly fantastic. This isn’t your usual pandemic/zombie end of the world story. In fact, it doesn’t really include either of those aspects. Though, certainly, there is cannibalism and sickness caused by radiation, but those are after-effects of the apocalypse. As a gay romance novel, it’s still good. I mean, there’s not much romance to speak of, but the relationship that forms between Cavalo and the others in the book – most importantly Bad Dog, SIRS and Luca – are truly phenomenal. You feel the friendship, comradery, the slow burn romance all so brilliantly.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about the actual plot without giving away spoilers. I’ll tell you this, though – it begins with a present day-ish world. It’s a vague 3rd person POV (in which there are no names, only nameless faces). It’s about what happens after the world ends. Duh. You knew that from the blurb. Oh, and there’s a super super slow burn romance.
Anything else I can say? Well, there are a few instances where we’re told about events that will be later reflected upon or happen in the future. It’s not often enough to get annoying, but it’s just enough to let you know stuff is going to happen and you had better be prepared for it.
As for everything else, the writing was great, the world was fantastically build and with a lot of attention to detail, the characters were all relatable in their own way and somewhat familiar. This may not have been the author’s intention, but I definitely saw a little of Sherlock Holmes in the analysis of potential fight moves (the Robert Downey Jnr one, of course). And, there was a distinct hint of crazy about SIRS that totally reminded me of Ben from Treasure Planet. None of that is bad. These characters were still unique, the advance thought process of the fight scenes still rang true to the character. All of this is good stuff. A little bit of something familiar or recognisable in a novel like this is never a bad thing.
When it comes to romance, there is no explicit on page sex. Ever. There are two brief mentions of MF sex and no MM at all. This works! Trust me. The first physical MM stuff happens at the 84% mark and it’s appropriate.
Overall, this is an incredible storytelling novel about what would happen if and when the world ends for whatever reason. It’s about survival instincts, looking inside yourself, insanity and fighting for what you believe in. It’s about bees, Dead Rabbits, SIRS and a Bad Dog. And, no, I’m not crazy.
Read it. You won’t be disappointed.