Book Review: The Void / Author: Brett Talley / Release Date: July 14th
I made no secret of the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed Brett Talley’s Bram Stoker Nominated novel That Which Should Not Be earlier this year, and so when I got my grubby hands on an advance review copy of his latest book, The Void I was both excited and a little nervous. Would the second novel match up to the success of his first book, especially given the huge differences in style and setting?
The Void takes place in the year 2169. Mankind has mastered interstellar travel and through the use of warp drives can cross light years in a matter of hours. There is only one problem. During the warp transition, the human passengers need to be put into stasis to prevent them going insane, but while they are in stasis the dreams come. Dark, terrible dreams that not everyone awakes from unscathed, if they wake at all.
The book starts off with Aiden Connor being discovered floating in an escape pod at the edge of the solar system. He is the only survivor of his space craft, which seems to have been destroyed by a warp core breach. The only problem is that Aiden can’t remember anything that happened on the ship. When he returns to earth orbit, no one will hire him because of their fear that he cracked under the pressure of the warp dreams. Before he can sink into a fit of alcoholic depression, however, he is approached by Captain Caroline Gravely with a job offer. She needs a navigator for her new ship, The Chronos on a routine cargo and passenger mission, and Aiden is the best man available for the job. As you can imagine, however, once The Chronos enters warp and the dreams begin, things start to go badly wrong.
There are obvious parallels between The Void and the movie Event Horizon and even video games such as Doom, however The Void is very much its own book. Once the story gets going it takes on an often surreal and hallucinogenic feel, interspersed with creeping psychological terror and episodes of graphic, brutal violence. Many writers would struggle to bring such disparate threads together but Talley masterfully weaves them into an unsettling and highly effective story that is more reminiscent of something like The Shining than the works mentioned above, and one of the dream scenes could very well have been a sly wink in the direction of Stephen King’s masterpiece.
As a jaded old horror reader, it’s been quite some time since I read something that actually made me feel nervous and uncomfortable in the way that this book did. The prose is fluid, the descriptions vivid without being overdone and the characters are all three dimensional and believable. The real star of the show, however, is the pervading sense of menace that oozes from every page.
The Void is one of the best horror novels that I’ve read this year, hands down. It is a vast improvement on That Which Should Not Be and firmly establishes Brett Talley as an author to watch out for in the future.