Author: Terry Tyler
Category: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Psychological, Thriller, Book Review
The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.
Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.
It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.
Although Blackthorn is tied to the Project Renova series is easily read as a stand alone. Enough of the backstory is included as we meet the inhabitants of the city, that the reader has a good flavour of the previous stories.
Blackthorn, a city in turmoil, is suffering from the effects of bad weather ruining crops resulting in a disgruntled populace. Evie, who lives in Shackers’ End with her family, is one of the bakers supplying food to those higher up the chain who care little for the living conditions of the less fortunate. The rules imposed on the townspeople are unpopular and the present circumstances of low food stocks stir up more resentment than usual. The best of everything goes to the ‘important’ people in the East End. Next down the line are those who live in the city centre, and lastly the shackers, who produce the food but are only allowed sub standard fare. And even those who live in Shacker’s End have a hierarchy.
Into this volatile situation comes the captivating Ryder, one of the regular group of travellers who visit Blackthorn looking for work in the autumn. His personality and good looks are such that he has managed to gain the admiration and affection of the people, who always look forward to his visits.
Silly Thora bounces back with her basket filled with apples ready for peeling and slicing, and dumps them on the end of my table, only just missing the pie bottom that I’ve just taken out to cool. She’s all flustered; don’t know why, it’s not like he’s going to take any notice of her.
“Isn’t it awesome?” Her pink face is sweaty and shiny. “Everything always gets batter when Ryder’s here.”
It does. Even I’ve got to admit that.
He’s our lucky star.
When Ryder claims he’s had a vision from a being he calls The Light, who wants the people of Blackthorn to live in love and harmony, he soon has most of the city under his spell and has even gained the support of the governor, Wolf North. Evie and Byron Lewis, a guard, are two of the small group who remain sceptical and unconvinced by Ryder’s proclamations.
The story is character driven, written in the present tense from various distinctly individual viewpoints, with Evie’s perspective told in the first person. Terry Tyler has the enviable skill of creating characters who come alive for the reader, with fully rounded, authentic and sometimes flawed personalities, shown through dialogue and introspection. Wonderful imagery and world building sets the mood with unexpected twists adding to the tension. Blackthorn’s divisions are so easy to picture, from the palatial governor’s palace through to the slum-like Stinky Bottom. As events unfold, the story takes on a much darker tone as the distressing, true extent of the horror that is Blackthorn becomes ever clearer.
The writing and storytelling, as always, are exceptional and give a fascinating, and sometimes horrifying, glimpse into a possible future world. A compelling, well paced narrative is peopled with diverse characters you’ll either love, pity or despise. Highly recommended.
About the Author
I am self-published and proud to be so, and have nineteen books on Amazon. In Autumn 2018 I published Legacy, the final book in the post apocalyptic Project Renova series. The other books in the series are Tipping Point, Lindisfarne, UK2, and Patient Zero, a collection of short stories about some of the characters.
My newest book is Blackthorn, a stand alone novel set in the same world as the Project Renova series, and I have at least one more book set in this world on my to-be-written list. I am currently at work on Faith, which is the sequel to Hope, my nineteenth publication – these are dystopian/psychological drama in genre, set in the UK of the not too distant future.
Earlier books: The Devil You Know is a psychological thriller based around a serial killer, and Best Seller is a satirical tale based on the modern publishing industry. Kings and Queens, Last Child and The House of York are modern day re-tellings of historical periods in the Tudor and Plantagenet eras. The rest come under the general banner of contemporary fiction/family drama/romantic suspense.