Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon
Published: Paperback, Arrow Books in association with Hammer, October 2012
Length: 632 pages
Summary (from Goodreads):
THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT HAS CHANGED FOREVER
THE REASON IS COLDBROOK
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?
Six hours after forging a pathway from his own reality to another, Jonah Jones closed his eyes to dream.
I’ve read a few zombie books, they frighten me in the same sort of way that roller-coasters do – I enjoy it but shake like a fool for twenty minutes afterwards and have the occasional issue with walking to the toilet on my own in the night for a couple of days.
Coldbrook blew them all out of the water.
As far as zombies go, Lebbon created the scariest ones I have encountered. Which is impressive because until now I would have replied to a statement like that with ‘but surely a zombie is just a zombie?’ Apparently not.
Combining quantum physics and multi-universe discoveries with Stephen King-esque road-trip horror, Coldbrook takes you on a journey across an America ravaged by something from another world.
There’s plenty of stereotypical ‘shoot the zombies in the head’ action mixed in with loyalty and love and bucket loads of desperation when there’s a whisper of the word ‘immunity’.
I liked the ferocity of love in the book, sometimes it is easy for horror novels to fall into the trap of killing everyone off apart from maybe one character, and I always find those a bit numbing – by the end I really don’t care – but Coldbrook doesn’t do that. There is the love of friendship, family and illicit affairs running through the story, buoying you through the gore and terror of it all and stopping it from becoming too mindless – there was a reason for all the destruction you witness through the character’s eyes. (Admittedly though, if Vic had called his daughter ‘beautiful’ one more time I may have screamed. I understand the contrast of innocent child versus relentless death-bringing zombie hoard but, seriously, there are other words than ‘beautiful’.)
Possibly the scariest thing about Coldbrook was the human-ness of it. The story may be stretched across worlds but the heart of it all was something very human and scary – the reactions of the world and the mystery at the centre of all the madness came down to things that were hauntingly easy to believe. Humans are very scary creatures.
Coldbrook scared me witless and made me cry but for all that, there was just something not quite right that I couldn’t put my finger on. Partly I felt it was trying a bit hard to be a Stephen King novel – there were a few references dotted throughout, Lebbon clearly holds him in high regard – and because of that bits of it felt almost forced. I probably couldn’t go back and tell you which parts, it was just a feeling I got that sometimes dragged me out of the action. Also, I think there was a slight juxtaposition where the characters all felt a bit too ‘British’ for a book set in America – something subconsciously off about their mannerisms – I’ve found it before, though more often in books written by American authors, set in England.
If you like zombies, shotguns, multi-universe theology or being scared witless I would recommend picking up a copy of this.
My Rating: 4/5*