American Revenant: Settlers and Sorrow by author John L. Davis IV is the second book in the American Revenant series. If somehow you’ve missed my review of the first book, American Revenant: Hometown Exodus then you need desperately to catch up so that you can read this recently released work of zombie fiction.
The story that began in the novella American Revenant: Hometown Exodus continues in this new full length novel!
Rejoin Gordon, Mike, Jimmy, and the rest of the group as they fight for survival. Forced to flee their hometown with friends and family, they must find someplace safe, both from their fellow man, and the ravenous dead.
Could you Survive?
This measure was surprisingly difficult to evaluate and put a fixed value on. The reason for this is that American Revenant: Settlers and Sorrow alternates frequently between being a somewhat sluggish account of the daily life of modern-day settlers who are trying to establish a safe and secure home for their families, an action packed thrill ride which features zombie and non-zombie fights with plenty of blood and gore, a suspenseful thriller when scouting is being done and an undead (or living) monster could pop out at any moment, and a purely heartbreaking drama when a character you’ve grown to care for is severely injured or a tale of past heartbreak is shared.
Overall, I determined that the frequency of action packed sequences and moments where I felt real emotional distress on behalf of the characters provided overwhelming support for keeping the entertainment value at the highest level my scale allows. Rather than penalize the author for the realistic way he portrays the characters’ ability to provide for themselves and their families or for the way he accurately describes how individuals in this perilous situation would need to not only plan out their actions but execute those plans – I want to reward the greatly expanded character development and thrilling scenes. Any lack of interest the reader might experience when reading about planning, organization, or the grunt labor required to make their plans a reality will be forgotten entirely when the next zombie attack occurs or when someone is reminded of a lost loved one.
Scene Description: 5/5
Once again, Davis’ writing is on point in the area of scene and event description. There are dozens of examples I could draw from during the several action packed or emotionally intense scenes in the first half of the book alone, but I selected this one to share with you because it is especially evocative:
“The bullet exploded the right eye, cored a bloody channel through soft brain tissue and exited with a huge burst of pink mist.”
Now just imagine a book with dozens of action scenes, with each and every move made by each character (living or non) being described with equal enthusiasm, and you can understand why this measure earned a perfect score.
Writing Flow & Writing Style: 5/5 & 5/5
Davis takes the popular approach of allowing the books timeline to proceed naturally with the passage of time that the characters experience. The transition between high energy scenes featuring combat or emotionally devastating events, memories and low energy scenes featuring discussions about the water supply or how to best build a fence to protect their camp felt natural. Whenever things calmed down for the group of doomsday preppers, the switch always felt natural and the description of the transition always featured how events and outcomes made people feel or what the overall impact was. Although events were sometimes jarring, it wasn’t because of the way the book was written and it didn’t feel artificial or as though the reader was missing anything, details or otherwise.
Something about Davis’ writing never fails to be compelling. His descriptions are always vivid and powerful, and I love the way he can tie an entire community of people together without making the setting or description feel cumbersome or unruly. If you appreciate dialogue-driven narrative with plenty of vivid descriptions peppered in, you’ll be as satisfied with American Revenant: Settlers and Sorrow as I was.
Character Description: 5/5
In this book we get to experience more character development than was seen in American Revenant: Hometown Exodus. We hear more about how characters know or knew one another, and how their relationships are expanding as they spend time together – fighting against zombies, other survivors, and the elements for their own lives. In addition to emotional and mental development, physical description of characters (even minor ones) is a persistent strength of Davis’.
This is another great book from John L. Davis. I wish I had designed this scale to include a tally for the number of times that a book made my chest tighten as though I were about to cry. This book will break your heart, but in the best possible way that zombie fiction can. If you want a powerful, compelling zombie series with more realism than blood and guts (but which still has plenty of blood and guts) – then you NEED this book!
American Revenant: Settlers and Sorrow is available for the low low price of $2.99 on Amazon, and for a limited time you can get the first book, American Revenant: Hometown Exodus for FREE, even if you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. You can also find out more about this wonderful series and the promotional projects which are on the horizon by checking out the website: www.americanrevenantseries.com