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'Apocalyptic Organ Grinder' by William Todd Rose

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Hydra/Random House

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose


I have been looking forward to trying some of the books from Random House’s Hydra imprint so I was happy to get review copies of a couple of the imprint’s upcoming releases. I decided to start off by reading “Apocalyptic Organ Grinder” by William Todd Rose since the title of this novella grabbed my imagination.

A virus that was developed as a bioweapon was release on the world and changed the course of history forever. Society began to crumble as the virus spread and then something even worse happened. As the world worked to contain the virus, some of the infected did not die but lived on to becoming living hosts. Those who were uninfected by the Gabriel virus, who had become known as the Settlers, began to wage a war against the infected Spewers. Thus not only did the world crumble but what was left behind had become a house divided.

Tanner Kline is a Sweeper. He is sworn to eliminate any Spewers in the vicinity of the lonely Settler community. He has always taken this oath seriously and personally as a way in which to protect his daughter. He does not believe that the Spewers are more than animals who are threatening his community’s existence. Lila is a Spewer protector who is sworn to help protect her community from the Settlers. She thinks that the Settlers are little more than savages bent on death and destruction. When Tanner and Lila meet as they perform their duties, they find their worldviews as well as their lives threatened. The world may once again never be the same.

“Apocalyptic Organ Grinder” is a great dystopian tale of the future after the apocalypse. The writing is very tight and the story is compelling and thought provoking at the same time. The tale reminded me in many ways of some of Gene O’Neill’s works or even “A Canticle for Liebowitz” in its mixture of with its mix of adventure as well as new societal norms such as religion and morals. This is a short novella but it is still powerful in its ability to convey complicated issues while remaining entertaining. There are elements of horror and science fiction as well as dark fantasy throughout the novella that makes for an original real.

I had never read anything by William Todd Rose before but I will definitely look for more of his works in the future. “Apocalyptic Organ Grinder” is a very strong read that suggests a depth of talent. I do not really understand the billing that this is a new take on the zombie genre as there are not any zombies in the story. I guess it is similar to zombie fiction in that it is an apocalyptic tale but that is really the only similarity for me. If you are looking for a story of zombie mayhem, then this is probably not the book for you. If you are looking for a strong story of a possible horrific future with a sense of morals, then do not hesitate to dive right in.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Hydra for this review copy. “Apocalyptic Organ Grinder” is available now.

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