First published back in May of 2021, David Moody’s novel ‘Autumn: Dawn’ formed the first book from the ‘London Trilogy’, which was a separate spinoff trilogy from the author’s original ‘Autumn’ series.

The trilogy was first released as limited edition hardbacks of two-hundred hand-numbered copies. The limited edition hardbacks contain bonus material at the end of each book, where Moody provides a handful of candidly written pages offering a heap of insight into the writing behind the ‘Autumn’ books as a whole.

Following the individual publications of the three ‘London Trilogy’ books, in October 2023 an omnibus edition was released which collected together all three instalments, along with additional short stories from the series, into one giant 840 page edition.

DLS Synopsis:
One minute London was a busy, bustling and densely populated city with a population of seven million…the next, 99.9% of the population were dead. In the blink of an eye those living in the city, and indeed the rest of the world, had been entirely wiped out, but for a few remaining survivors.

Days later those who succumbed to the deadly germ, began to rise from the corpse-strewn pavements and deserted roads. The dead no longer stayed dead. Or at least, they no longer stayed still.

A small group of three women had come together in the midst of such horror. They’d found each other amongst the madness and chaos that now surrounded them. Even after everyone had died, one of the women – Kath – was still in contact with her friend in Yorkshire. The two had been texting ever since everything had ended. Her friend spoke of a self-sustainable community where, together with a group of fellow survivors, she was living within. A veritable haven from all the death and danger at a place called Ledsey Cross.

However, hundreds of miles separated Kath and that dream. A treacherous landscape filled with walking corpses between the two.

The three women weren’t entirely alone in the vast remains of London. Elsewhere was a group of just-less-than-fifty fellow survivors, hauled up in hotel just off Fleet Street. A group surviving on the remains of the once great city. Going out day after day, stripping bare metro supermarkets that had only ever been stocked to keep office workers supplied with lunchtime deals. A finite supply of perishable food. An unsustainable supply that they all knew would soon run out.

And as each day passed, the chance of survival grew slimmer and slimmer. The reanimated dead are relentless…restless…and becoming increasingly hostile. The change in them is subtle but noticeable. The dead are becoming more and more of a threat to those left clinging to the last vestiges of existence.

The only chance of survival for those remaining is to band together. Work together and somehow carve out a sanctuary of their own. They must try. Or all will be lost…

DLS Review:
My admiration for Moody’s post-apocalyptic literary work is no secret. When the original ‘Autumn’ (2001) novel first came out, the landscape of post-apocalyptic zombie fiction was relatively barren. From that early offering, Moody soon established his own, unique vision of a bleak and terrifying undead world. One which focused more on the human element, the survivors’ journey, than it did the zombie threat itself. One which stepped away from the cliches accustomed with the zombie apocalypse and focused instead on the survival of those remaining.

Since those early days, Moody has gone on to pen an entire saga of ‘Autumn’ novels, each bringing their own unique perspective to the rotting undead banquet served up for us all to feast upon. The last addition to the saga had been with ‘Autumn: Aftermath’ (2012). Almost a decade later and Moody returns to the ‘Autumn’ world with this brand-new spin-off trilogy, set in the UK’s capital city – London.

So, what can we expect from this new addition? A textbook slab of survival horror centred around a hapless group of survivors? Maybe Moody will fall back on a simple regurgitation of scenes and situations from past works? Or will we simply have a collection of vaguely different characters going through the same ordeal we’ve already been through in the previous books? After all, we’re being taken back to Day One. Reliving the same event…only on a different location with different survivors!

Of course we’re not given anything as unambitious as that. Moody’s never been an author to stick to the safe ground of tried and tested formulas. He’s certainly not an author to settle for any mediocre plots or routine character development. Yes, the backdrop is one we’re now very familiar with. In fact, in this latest addition, there’s perhaps an increasingly ‘The Walking Dead’ feel behind the entire setting. But that’s not the focus of the novel. The setting has never been the focus of a Moody offering. Instead, it’s the characters’ stories, their interactions, conflicts and individual storylines, what make the tale what it is.

In essence we have a story, or rather the first third of a larger story, which deals with the converging and then banding together of two groups of survivors in the midst of this undead apocalypse. The expanse of the story is that much wider than the previous ‘Autumn’ novels, with the towering city skyline of London forming the densely oppressive arena for this first book to play out within.

Interestingly, Moody hasn’t really chosen any standout principal protagonist within the story for the reader to latch onto (well, at least not within this first book). Instead, we’re carried along upon the shoulders of a variety of leading characters who aren’t so much jostling for pole position, as they are coming together as a single collective group, to tell the tale in a broader, almost amalgamated voice.

Unlike Moody’s ‘Hater’ series, the novel isn’t geared up to deliver countless bouts of adrenaline-pumping action, pouring forth a near-constant stream of blood-drenched bodies. It just ain’t that kind of party. Instead, we have a strongly atmospheric narrative that gradually cranks up the tension, and indeed the overall pace, with an unrelenting consistency throughout the book’s length.

I guess one thing that jumps out at you about this first instalment in the trilogy, is that it really feels like its mission was to set down the foundations for a larger piece. There’s a lot of plot building which Moody has purposefully set time to establishing. An overarching story is clearly being carefully positioned behind the latticework of characters and undead chaos. The end result is a book you would never call a standalone novel, but rather a purposeful first instalment in a wider tale.

For me, this book hit all the right spots. There was no disappointment, never a feeling of the author pandering to his audience, but rather a refreshingly honest portrayal of a post-apocalyptic vision which the author loves painting in vivid tones of human emotion.

If you thought tensions came to a peak in Moody’s previous ‘Autumn’ books, then just you wait until you get in amongst these emotionally-tired Londoners, each one pushed to their collective limits. Moody has ambitiously gone for a wider perspective than in his previous books. A broader spectrum of characters telling the story. A community of survivors facing the end of the world.

And it works. Fuck, does it work. The book is as thought-provoking as it is tense. It poses questions via a very British social commentary. At times uncomfortable dilemmas are brought to the surface. Explosive tempers and character conflicts reveal a more poignant pondering on society. It has a large cast of characters, seemingly randomly picked from society, each with their own background, skills and stories. Each faced with the magnitude of humanities annihilation. Each needing to find a way to cope…to survive…to try to carry on somehow.

And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite…you also have double-decker buses careering through the rotten streets of post-apocalyptic London. Oh my…what’s not to like?!

The novel runs for a total of 288 pages.

Twenty-Five Years Since The End Of The World
– 7 Pages
[Limited Edition Hardback – Bonus Material]
In this first of three insights into the ‘Autumn’ books, Moody starts off with pondering how it’s been more than twenty-five years since he wrote the first ‘Autumn’ novel. From here he gives us a potted history of ‘Autumn’, and his early motivations for the books. This is largely about how his zombies aren’t flesh-eating cliches and how his survivors aren’t simply trying to avoid becoming infected by a zombie virus. Instead, he wanted his books to be survival horror, where if you survived to see Day One, then you can thank your lucky stars that weren’t going to join the throngs of the undead. Instead, the stories would be about trying to survive within this undead world.

Moody goes on to talk about his apprehension at continuing the series after it was thought to have finished and the pitfalls of prequels (most notably pointing out the plot-flaws in the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Aliens’ prequels). In doing so, Moody reflects on his journey through writing and publishing each of the ‘Autumn’ books as well as the superb ‘Hater’ series.

It makes for an incredibly insightful and entertaining read, providing a glimpse into the thoughts, motivations and writing behind these books. Indeed, in this bonus material, we really see the man behind the books, and within just a few pages, Moody helps us to join up the dots and understand the evolution of the series and indeed all of his works that much better.

An absolutely wonderful insight, candidly written and simply a joy to read.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Autumn’ instalments:


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