Patrick D'Orazio's Reviews > The Estuary

The Estuary by Derek Gunn
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Nov 05, 10

Read in August, 2009

The Estuary takes place in a small Irish town, where we are introduced to quite a few different characters going through their normal lives, including a journalist who has moved away from the city to rekindle his relationship with both his wife and his writing, a ex-British secret agent with a haunted past, a doctor, a police officer, and a delivery driver. There are plenty of other characters we get introduced to as one of the sons of the journalist, playing out on the dried out estuary, stumbles over a jagged pieces of metal sticking out of the sand. Not much later a group of men are digging up a World War 2 German mini-sub that has been buried for over sixty years and contains a poisonous gas the Nazi's intended on deploying against the allies.
Essentially what ensues is zombie mayhem as the military gets called in to cordon off the town and the people inside of it are struggling to come to grips with the fact that many of their neighbors are turning into the flesh eating undead.
Derek Gunn moves this tale along quickly, letting us get a clear picture of how the gas released from the canisters on board the sub quickly turns the men who unearthed it and then turns the almost the rest of the population of the small town into flesh eaters. As the action gets rolling we start shifting through multiple perspectives and see the town quickly devolve into chaos as people discover they are sealed off from the rest of the world by a merciless military and have to somehow find a way to survive the onslaught of their undead neighbors.
The action is fast and the atmosphere is intriguing. I definitely enjoyed the story and the multitude of characters we are given the chance to get to know and wonder whether or not they will survive until the end. The author did a excellent job of providing a scientifically based explanation of how the infection has turned those it touches into the undead which lends a touch of realism to the tale I liked. Derek Gunn also adds an element to his monsters I found interesting: they make no sounds, which makes them incredibly eerie to say the least. In addition to this, as time goes on these creatures seem to become more fluid and flexible-shifting from the classic slow rotter to a swifter moving form. The panic we get to see amongst the townsfolk as they crowd together and are surrounded by the living dead really resonates. More so than most other books of this type, we get to see how people crammed together under dire circumstances tend to act without an ounce of rationality as fear and madness grips them.
If I am to find criticism with this work, perhaps it lies in the fact that there are so many different characters and so many different perspectives we are subjected to. The author switches from one person to the next rather rapidly especially when the story kicks into high gear as the zombie assault commences. Don't get me wrong, this is not a strong complaint because the author does a great job of fleshing out most of his characters and giving us a reason to pay attention to them, but I guess I just prefer a smaller circle of main characters being focused on more in a story like this-I would like to have gotten to know a few of them a bit better than I did, to form a stronger attachment. Still, he kept things tight and we get to understand how everything fits together quite well.

Overall, this is a highly entertaining tale that keeps things moving at a fast clip and gets us to the conclusion in a breathless fashion that I found to be fun and exciting. This author definitely created a fun zombie story that kept me intrigued on virtually every page.
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