Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Stephen North’s “Dead Tide Surge”

Dead Tide Surge is the third book in Stephen North’s Dead Tide Series, and I have previously reviewed the other two installments, Dead Tide, and Dead Tide Rising.  I read both prior to their re-release by Permuted Press and so I do not know for certain if there were significant changes, specifically a transition from present to past tense being used by the author.  This is the first of this series that I have read that was not in present tense.  While the transition didn’t change the story or impact the characters or dialog, the immediacy felt with present tense falls away a bit here.  That isn’t meant as a criticism.  The majority of stories are written in past tense for a reason and there is value to crafting a tale in that format.  Most people find it less jarring and more aesthetically pleasing.  While this may be true, I can say that the present tense versions of the first two books in this series were more than satisfactory for me-the pacing was fast and the short chapters that shuffle the reader from one character to the next was abrupt, but in a good way for someone who enjoys a bit of disruptive force being used in the stories they read.  Despite the tense change, the short, sharp chapters remain.  Reading the Dead Tide series is like getting shot at by an automatic weapon, with perhaps a dozen different story lines crashing against one another and keeps the reader on their toes.  Certainly not a style that everyone enjoys, but it has allowed the author to manage the experiences of an ensemble cast scattered around the Tampa Bay area who are all dealing with the onslaught of the undead and it keeps them all top of mind as they appear on the pages with great frequency.

Dead Tide Surge starts up as abruptly as its predecessor left off, so if it has been a while since you read Dead Tide Rising, it may take a few chapters to catch on to where each character, or groups of characters, ended up by the end of book two.  But it has been nearly four years since I read the prior installment in this series and was still able to recall the bulk of what the characters who have survived to this point have been through.  My only hope is that I don’t have to wait several more years for the next installment.  Originally, I presumed this would be a trilogy, and at some points in this book it appeared as though some of the many story lines were drawing to a conclusion.  The author did a good job of adding enough surprises so that while some characters meet their demise, others have plenty of reason to go on fighting to survive through at least one more book.  Some of the many strands of this very complex web do cross paths and I could believe that the fourth book could be the final stand of this series, though who is to say?  Plenty of the characters have not interacted with one another as of yet.  The author will have to determine if everyone will be together on the same page before all is said and done.  My gut tells me Mr. North isn’t quite sure himself how things will end up-will there be hope or will it all end in blood and despair?

With all the tightly interwoven plot elements here, reading the first two books is pretty much mandatory to understand what is going on here in book 3.  And if you enjoy tales of zombie gore and violence that is character driven (driven by a large cast of characters, that is) then it is worth picking up the trilogy.

Dead Tide Surge can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Tide-Surge-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00KPKGCFC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1406668944

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