The Silence by Tim Lebbon (Titan, April 14, 2015)-Coldbrook was superb, so of course I was looking forward to The Silence, which involves a plague of a very different sort. When a new cave system is discovered in Moldova, it’s announced as a major find, and in fact, young Ally is watching the Discovery Channel when the discovery is made. However, something is pulled out of the cave that resembles a raw piece of meat, not a human being. Not any more. A new kind of creature has emerged from the caves, and they’ll eat anything that breathes. Anything. Ally has always been interested in the news, and has hopes of being a journalist, so she watches in horror as news spreads across social media with reports of attacks on humans, and so much death. Soon the horror moves closer to England, and Ally and her mother Kelly, her father Huw, her younger brother Jude, and grandmother Lynne, decide to head to Huw’s ancestral home in Scotland in hopes of waiting out the attack.
Soon, they realize that the creatures are blind, and are drawn by noise. Living in silence is nothing new to Ally, who has been deaf since a car accident that claimed her paternal grandparent’s lives, and this gives her family a unique survival mechanism, since sign language is an ingrained part of their lives. The story follows Ally and her family, as well as a close family friend Glenn, as they attempt to make their way to safety in a world that seems to be falling apart.
You’re probably asking yourself how it’s possible for creatures to be a “plague.” Don’t worry, the author covers that, and it’s chilling, but what makes this book so compelling, and unique, is that part of the story is told from Ally’s point of view and how she views her silent world. It’s also a coming of age, not just for Ally, but for her 10 year old brother, Jude. Tim Lebbon does a fantastic job of showing how horrific events can shape not only adults, but also children, and the bravery of his characters amidst such self-doubt is heartwrenching. Speaking of heartwrenching, there are a few scenes in here that will rip your heart out, even as you cringe at the terrifying creatures that seem on course to significantly delete the world population. This is a suspenseful, harrowing novel, with a family at the center that not only survives by their wits, but by the love they have for each other. This is a creature feature with heart, and if the ending isn’t wrapped up in a pretty bow, that’s ok, because Ally’s hope for the future is more than enough to light the way.