Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon

October 11, 2012



The facility lay deep in Appalachian Mountains, a secret laboratory called Coldbrook. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were unleashing.

With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead.

In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race.

But will they find her in time?

Unfortunately for the rest of humanity, there are some, most notably those pesky scientific types, who continue to be a spectacularly inquisitive bunch. Have they learned nothing from watching cats and their innate sense of curiosity? Based on the events that occur in Coldbrook the answer is a resounding no. It seems that as a race we just can’t help ourselves, we will go out of our way to fiddle with things that are best left alone. Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon is the latest novel from Hammer and is a rather wonderful horror/sci-fi mash-up that explores everything from atheism and religion through to zombies via a good old dollop of multiverse theory.

Six hours after forging a pathway from his own reality to another, Jonah Jones closed his eyes to dream. But he doubted that sleep would come.

There are a host of characters that I really enjoyed, some sadly feature all too briefly (don’t worry I won’t say who, that would spoil the surprise), but the most interesting from my perspective was Jonah Jones. His journey, both physically and psychologically, was utterly engrossing. A pivotal member of the team at the research facility, he is destined to travel further and discover more than anyone else. It was a surprise to learn that a seventy six year old widower could be an action hero.

The other character that stood out for me was Jonah’s colleague, Vic. Driven by a desire to protect his family, he will do anything in his power to keep them safe. This single-mindedness leads Vic to make some epically poor decisions and he spends the rest of the novel trying to atone for his mistakes. There is something quite gratifying about watching someone attempting to seek redemption. I think a flawed character is often far more interesting to follow than a perfect one.

When it comes to apocalyptic fiction I’m always impressed when an author manages to push the boundaries. You would think that the end of the Earth would be bad enough? Not at all. Mr. Lebbon takes the reader one step beyond, the end of all Earths. Yes people, we’re taking the zombie threat to parallel universes. This is the point where my brain started to melt in the most splendid of ways. Once we are firmly into the realms of multiple visions of Earth, the author also casually tosses in the concept of an infinite never-ending evil. Needless to say by then, my tiny little mind was well and truly blown.

The science fiction elements of this story blend well with the horrific. The reader follows characters travelling from our Earth to other worlds. What follows is race against time to find a cure and halt the spread of the contagion. Imagine Stargate with a dark heart and you’re about half way there.

I’ve got to be honest here and admit that I’ve never read any of Tim Lebbon’s other novels. I had no notion of what to expect when I cracked this open at page one but I’m glad to say I was very impressed. I’ve read a lot of apocalyptic fiction and Coldbrook is right up there with the best. I’m always on the lookout for a fresh interpretation of the end of the world, and with this novel I think I may have just found it. All we need to do now is find a movie company who are willing to bring this striking vision to life on the big screen. Does anyone know any?

Coldbrook is published by Hammer and is available now. Highly recommended.

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