Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: Nightwalk by D. Nathan Hilliard

Welcome to Coventry Woods, 

…a tranquil, middle class neighborhood where trees turn the streets into shady tunnels, soccer moms jog on secluded paths, and backyard barbeques are weekend staples. It’s a quiet, urban example of the American dream. Here businessmen are neighbors with radio DJs, young doctors buy their first houses, and author Mark Garrett has been settling in with his lovely new wife and stepdaughter. 
But tonight Mark’s new neighborhood is going to come with something he never bargained on. 

The pits of hell have yawned wide and poured their contents into the midnight streets and homes of Coventry Woods. Everything has gone insane. Shots and screams ring out in the night, while death stalks the darkness in forms this earth has never before seen. Even worse, the only hope of escape is by foot. 

Now Mark, along with his stepdaughter and his back-fence neighbor, must flee the neighborhood while attempting to help anybody they meet. And it won’t be easy. They will be walking a gauntlet of unearthly predators, as they strive toward a goal they aren’t even sure still exists…the outside.

The cover is very atmospheric, and somewhat nostalgic. The tagline could easily be found on an 80's movie, and the cover itself reminds me of Stephen King covers I have seen in the past, with a black background and the title in big block letters. I'm a bit on the fence as to whether or not it would stand out on the shelf, but at the very least I would pause and try to make out the creepy monsters in the photo.

I love the atmosphere and the world Nightwalk is set in. There is something terribly wrong with Coventry Woods, and the whole book has an 'apocalypse' feel to it. But rather than have the cliche zombies, the book has several different varieties of monsters, some harmful and some not. Unlike traditional monsters, these have never been explored before, and the reader is in for a treat as they explore these creatures in great detail and how they affect the main character.

But the main characters seems to be where Nightwalk struggles. Mark Garett is certainly not the heroic type, and normally having a realistic character would be a strong part of the novel. But unfortunately this tends to stray too far in the other direction. Every encounter Mark is part of tends to end in disaster, and while in most novels the protagonists would learn and grow as the story moves along...Mark takes a really long time to do so, almost to a point where it becomes depressing. Fortunately, this is somewhat saves by the other characters in the novel. Casey is his hot-headed step-daughter who has a great deal of layers and courage. The third companion, Ed, is an old but smart character who leads the others out of trouble more then once. Overall I really like how all three work interact together. The second half also introduce a few interesting antagonists to the mix, which add more intrigue, even if the final confrontation feels a little tacked on.

FINAL GRADE: 4.5 out of 5. As far as 'apocalypse monster-mix' novels go, this one is better than most I've read, and I personally loved the first few chapters and the build-up to disaster. I do wish the novel had ended slightly differently. Without trying to go too far into spoiler territory, it feels like luck was more a factor rather than the characters accomplishing anything. But overall it was an enjoyable read.

Nightwalk is found here.

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