First published back in January of 2005, British author David Moody’s third instalment into his signature ‘Autumn’ zombie series was entitled ‘Autumn: Purification’.
Having reached the secret military underground bunker, Michael Collins and Emma Mitchell along with Donna, Bernard, Jack, Doc, Ellis, Cooper and a handful of other survivors find themselves amongst a small gathering of what remains of a military presence. Locked away inside a highly-secure underground facility, the small band of survivors find that those hiding out down there aren’t that much better off than those above the ground.
Outside, in the large field where the bunker’s only entrance breaks the surface of the ground, the undead have been gradually converging. Attracted by the brief lights and sounds of the military coming and going in their protective suits, the numbers of the undead within their immediate vicinity are beginning to cause a problem for those hiding away in the bunker. With the increase in rotting corpses outside, the few air vents located sporadically around the bunker’s position have become blocked by the dead.
Now the military are forced into taking immediate action. Their plan is one massive assault upon the hording dead outside. The numbers may have swelled dramatically, but the military still have their immense firepower. And so, with one giant push, the military tear their way out through the bunker’s entrance, using the full force of their hefty arsenal.
At first the sheer strength of their weaponry seems unstoppable, as they rip through vast swathes of the walking dead. But soon enough the unrelenting surge of the undead overwhelms the military, and the remaining few are forced into a desperate retreat.
Fleeing from the scene of mass slaughter, the handful of survivors make their way to an out-of-town retail estate where they decide to hole-up in a warehouse. With the vast majority of the undead population in the surrounding area having been drawn to the underground bunker, the group feel somewhat safe for the time being. And then the helicopter arrives.
With the arrival of the helicopter, the newcomers Richard Lawrence and Karen Chase, inform the group that they have come from another community living in a secured airfield not too far away. Escorted by the helicopter, the survivors from the underground bunker decide to make their way to the airfield to meet with the others.
Although safe for the time being within the fenced-off expanse of the airfield, the expanding group of survivors know that they can’t remain there forever. On the other side of the fences, vast hordes of the undead have been gathering; kept at bay by frequent purges of fire from those within the airfield. But they have a plan to escape the horrors of this rotting world. A small offshore island where they can finally live, away from the threat of the undead. Slowly but surely they can move over to the island, a few at a time, and there they can make it their final place to live. But nothing is ever that simple in the land of the undead…
For the third instalment into his now signature ‘Autumn’ series, Moody sets off the tale with a phenomenal piece of high-adrenaline-action that instantly catapults the novel into the realms of an absolute masterclass in high-impact zombie fiction. From the claustrophobic confines of the underground bunker, Moody bursts forth with a gargantuan fire-fight against the swelling undead hordes, as the military soldiers attempt to clear the area surrounding the bunker. The sheer edge-of-the-seat mayhem of this massive battle is delivered with such a bone-jarring intensity, the likes of which I can only think have being since replicated in Max Brooks’ novel ‘World War Z’ (2006). We are talking nothing short of utterly mesmerising action here. And when the tables turn, so the heart-pounding tension suddenly erupts.
Like with the previous two instalments, Moody dedicates much of the novel to setting out an incredibly real atmosphere that clings to absolutely everything. Moody utilises a number of styles and techniques in order to fully encapsulate the harrowing experiences that the various survivors are being subjected to. Incorporating chapters in the first-person-perspective that are vaguely diary-like in their delivery, Moody is able to insert an additional wealth of emotional responses to the various dilemmas, as a direct result of this unique perspective.
Characterisation is once again an integral element to the progression of the tale. Here we see a new set of survivors orchestrating a whole new feeling of hope for the characters we have come to know and love so much over the previous two novels. Pulling together and moving away from the every-man-for-himself mentality is pushed to the absolute forefront of the novel. Indeed, those that refuse to become such dedicated team players become the starkly contrasting characters that begin to slip towards the murky area of becoming an antagonist (outside of the undead threat that is).
Where ‘Purification’ differs the most from the previous two instalments is with the ramped-up action and the sheer intensity of the survivors struggles to survive. That’s not to say that the previous two novels haven’t crammed in many scenes of desperate fighting to survive. But what we have within ‘Purification’ is an unbelievably magnified version. The hordes of the undead are on a much larger scale. The violence and gore is projected in a more vivid fashion. The chaos and mayhem that often results in a surprise undead attack is so much sharper and starker – pouncing on the reader and throwing the characters into heart-pumping disarray.
Intense is certainly the best word to describe ‘Purification’. From the moment the tale begins (directly proceeding on from the end of ‘Autumn: The City’ (2003)), the intensity of the action, the rawness of the numerous characters’ emotions, the magnitude of the undead threat, and the vivid bleakness of what the world has become, is like no other post-apocalyptic zombie novel I have read. Quite frankly this is nothing short of a masterpiece in adrenaline-pumping zombie fiction, and very possibly the highlight of the whole ‘Autumn’ series.
The novel runs for a total of 288 pages.
© DLS Reviews