Elizabeth Knox (Corsair) 2015, 445pp, RRP $29.99

The Wellington-residing and fairly prolific Knox’s latest offering has its familiar aspects, and yet it’s nevertheless pretty damn creepy at first – until the secret of the supernatural danger becomes apparent, the mystery is resolved and the title becomes clear about two-thirds of the way through. Wake - Elizabeth Knox - The Clothesline

The Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is afflicted by a sudden mass murderous insanity one spring morning, and a small group of characters are left unaffected and trapped as glimmers of Stephen King’s Under The Dome and The Stand and director George Romero’s The Crazies intrude. These survivors are quite a bunch, and include: police constable Theresa and her friend Belle, who works at the local nature reserve; bemused teenage gamer Oscar; visitor Holly and her Mum Kate, a resident of the retirement home where terrible things happen; William, an American lawyer you’ll find it hard to like; a rangy Maori fisherman named Bub; and others.

After the horror (some of which is memorably nasty, such as the seemingly snogging couple actually and enthusiastically chewing each other’s lips off), the gang take up at a local spa, try to make sense of what’s going on and ponder how to get beyond a forcefield surrounding the town. The empty streets, burning houses and pervasive mood of death are vividly depicted by Knox, but when a mysterious stranger is spotted and we start to understand that this has all happened before, there is a certain slackening of the pace, until the final act, which does end on a pretty cool twist or two.

All in all, an enjoyable read for horror fans willing to try something scarily Kiwi, although it’s really the first 200 or so pages that’ll keep you properly awake.

Dave Bradley

This title is available through Murdoch Books. Click HERE to purchase your copy from Angus & Robertson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email