Gary Fry is fast becoming one of my favorite writers. I have yet to read a book by him that I did not enjoy and I have a feeling that best is yet to come. I was happy to see that DarkFuse was releasing his next novel, “Severed,” in April and I knew after reading the first couple pages that I was not going to be disappointed.
It was a normal day in a boutique clothing store in London when the world would change forever. Someone chose this as the spot to release a virus unlike anything experienced before. This virus caused the souls of the infected to be severed from the earthly flesh. As the souls rose to the sky to form a ghostly halo over the town, the bodies of the infected were left to let loose their basest desires without any thought or morals. London literally became hell on Earth while the souls of the zombie-like infected rampaged through the city.
Stephen Hobbs is a disgraced academic who has become one of the government’s last hopes to solve the mystery of what is tearing the country apart. In order to stop the virus, Hobbs must face not only the legions that have been affected by the virus but his own demons as well. As the situation grows more dire, Hobbs must risk his life and his sanity to allow the government’s last hope to take effect and solve the mystery of the severance.
“Severed” is an early contender for the novel of the year. When I first started the novel, I was struck by the brutality of the story and was captivated by the world that Fry had created. The novel starts out with some very harsh scenes that I was surprised to encounter outside of a work of extreme horror. Yet even with the extreme violence and brutality of the story, Fry never loses sight of the novel’s goal and tells the story in a way that kept me completely enthralled. I rarely lose myself in a story yet I quickly found myself a hundred pages in and wanting for more. In the middle of the violence, Fry keeps the story tight and never loses sight of his ultimate goal. This is something that I rarely find in a work that is so upfront in its brutality and fast-paced action.
What makes “Severed” so strong is that there is a heart of morality beating beneath the jagged exterior of the tale. Hobbs is a severely flawed character but one that is completely human and easily understood. While I cannot say that I liked the character, I could still understand his flaws and her personal struggle to rise above his shortcomings. This leads the story in a direction that almost belies the violence as it delves into the core of what it means to be human. Hobbs is aware of his baser instincts and struggles to rise above them. This is a story of violence which may at times shock the reader but it never gives in to taking the easy route of succumbing to the violence and becoming a simple tale of horror. There is a clear moral in this story that shines throughout and keeps it from becoming just another apocalyptic tale. Fry’s mastery is apparent throughout and “Severed” is a story that transcends the boundaries of the horror genre. “Severed” is a moral tale of what makes us human as well as being an entertaining story of a man’s struggle to overcome the terror that he faces which is both personal as well as widespread. While Fry’s other works have shown glimpses of the potential of his writing, “Severed” is a novel written by a master at his best. I can only hope that this book is an indication of even better things to come from this talented writer and has ensured that I will be a fan for life.
I would like thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Severed” is scheduled to be released by DarkFuse in April 2014 and is available for preorder now.