Publication Date: March 5th 2015 from Little Brown Book Group UK.
On a sunny spring morning the settlement of Kahukura in Tasman is suddenly overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As the group of try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened.
So, what to say about Wake then. Well firstly I read this in a day, got extremely annoyed every time I had to do other things, so utterly utterly addictive was it that it really should come with some kind of warning. Not only because it will take over your life for a while but because afterwards you may find that you have a heightened perception of your surroundings and not necessarily in a good way. The type of novel that will come back and haunt you when you least expect it, those of course being the very best ones..
Theresa is a police officer and witnesses a helicopter crash. Upon heading off to search for survivors, she gets interrupted by the insanity of others – quite literally. Everyone in Kahukura has gone mad and they are busy killing themselves and each other – when the dust settles, Theresa and an eclectic bunch of other survivors must band together to try and stay alive as there seems to be no way to leave the settlement.
This is highly intriguing and a terrific mix of horror, speculative ficton, drama and fantasy – Elizabeth Knox writes absolutely beautifully and with such a deft touch that you are absorbed immediately into the tale, it will engulf you completely and refuse to let go. Some of it is horrific, descriptively speaking there is nowhere to hide from the horror of a group of previously normal people suddenly becoming violently unpredictable and that is just while the scene is being set – what happens next is, in its own way, even more frightening, whilst at the same time terrifically engaging.
As the surviving bunch take stock of their situation, come together and get torn apart, it is brilliant brilliant stuff. The relationships forming are key to everything and as things develop it is impossible to put aside. Sam is one of the most enigmatic and terrifically drawn characters I have found in fiction recently – and she is not the only one who will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.
As someone who does not know New Zealand well, I thought the sense of place was terrific, it really put me right there, I could feel the surroundings and go on this journey with Theresa and co as if I had lived there all my life. The wildlife, the backdrop, all comes to vivid, authentic life in the hands of an author who is a magical weaver of words – the entire novel is so elegantly constructed I genuinely thought it was a work of genius.
Overall a terrific read – and the great thing for me is, as this is my first novel from Elizabeth Knox I have a lovely little backlist to get to. And get to it I will.
Highly HIGHLY recommended. Although possibly not for the faint of heart. Scary, intuitive and perfect.
Happy Reading Folks!