Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Stephen A. North’s “Dead Tide Rage”

Dead Tide Rage continues the saga Stephen A. North started with Dead Tide back in 2008.  This is the fourth installment in the series, which tells the stories of a wide assortment of folks in the days following the start of the zombie apocalypse in the Tampa Bay area.  There is no telling if this is the actual end of the road for the saga-while some characters disappear from the tale here (and have been doing so since the first book), there continues to plenty more to carry things forward.  This isn’t any sort of spoiler.  The author has never pulled his punches when it comes to the fate of those who inhabit the pages in this series.  And of course, if you are reading this review and haven’t checked out any of the prior installments, I would suggest you start with Dead Tide, or DTR won’t make a huge amount of sense.

The author changed the tense with the third installment of this series to past vs. present and he sticks with past tense with DTR.  Regardless of the tense used, there is an immediacy found in each book of the series-things move at a fast clip.  You are in deep in the action, regardless of what character’s perspective you are subjected to in that moment.  Many of them are familiar by now, but there are a few new additions to the cast.  If it has been a while since you’ve read Dead Tide Surge (the third book), the author has provided a dramatis personae at the beginning of the book as a quick refresh.  Keeping up with everybody can get a bit confusing, but if you have made it this far, you likely have a good handle on who is who.  There are plenty of folks that have survived long enough that you probably have your favorites, and the ones you are hoping die an ugly and brutal death.  It should be noted, there is plenty of diversity-women, men, and children of different races and socio-economic classes, coming together or falling apart on a daily (and hourly basis) regardless of who they were before the zombies rose.  No one comes away clean in this tale.  Of course, this means the story isn’t locked into any single group’s survival-there really are no permanent groupings anyway-things change far too quickly and the ensemble cast drifts on and off each other’s radar unless they make a conscious effort to stick together…and even that doesn’t work out all that well too often.

The reality of a review of a fourth book in a series is that you, the reader, likely have made up your mind about this series by now and you are reading this because you want to see if this book matches up well with the others that came before.  My answer to that is yes-this book fits seamlessly with the others, like a new puzzle piece.  Again, there is no telling if the puzzle is complete-the outer edges aren’t quite straight.  I almost feel as though the author could call it a day with this book or write four more books in the series if he chooses.  As with most apocalyptic tales, the idea of a happy ending is pretty subjective.  Orson Welles once said “If you want a happy ending that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”  I’m not sure Stephen A. North has decided where to end his story, or if he is all that interested in a happy ending for his characters.  But the ride, so far, has been a pretty interesting one.

You can find Dead Tide Rage here:  https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Tide-Rage-Stephen-North-ebook/dp/B073HR3TFL/ref=la_B002K8VVMG_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499300622&sr=1-1

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