Book Review: Joe & Me / Author: David Moody / Publisher: This Is Horror / Release Date: June 18th
As part of their inaugural chapbook publishing project, British horror website This Is Horror have pulled off something of a coup. David Moody, author of the Autumn and Hater series, has given them an exclusive release of his short story, Joe & Me. This book is limited to 500 copies and is a real collector’s item.
It is the tale of eight year old Joe, whose father is a stay at home dad and whose mother is a scientist, working hard to try to save the world. Working for the military, she finds that she has dual motives for her work; her own research involves inventing an airborne medicine that can be pumped into the atmosphere, whilst the military have other, more darkly nefarious intentions for her studies. When the military pull the plug on her lab, Joe and his dad sell the family home and move into the facility so that she can carry her investigations on. As is the case with most stories like this, the military decide to release what they have into the atmosphere without proper trials or testing with disastrous results and the central protagonists find themselves in a race against time to try and remedy what has happened.
As this is a short story, you’d expect a lack of character development, but because Moody concentrates on the family paradigm and allows everything else to occur on the periphery of the tale, you really buy into the events and want the family to succeed. However, as fans of Moody will attest, you know that’s never going to happen, but it’s still a heart-wrenching moment when you realise that all may be lost.
Satisfyingly morose, the tone of the story moves from normality to apocalyptic, encompassing scientific research and military strategy as well as the family unit, but it never seems rushed or cramped into the parameters of the narrative. It feels like it’s the teaser for a full novel, and one that would be welcomed by fans of this type of literature. For a short, it takes a lo-fi route to an unavoidable apocalypse, and we are left wanting to know so much more. Let’s hope that the upcoming chapbooks in the series from other writers are of a similar ilk.