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West Kill Creek

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West Kill Creek is a contemplative work of post-apocalyptic fiction set in upstate New York. A particularly lethal virus has rapidly wiped out most of civilization. A hardy band of survivors does what it takes to stay alive, but the novel also reverberates with the echoes of local history and deep time, the beauty and terror of nature, the power and glory of books, current environmental and political issues, and actual events and places—such as Hurricane Irene, and the Gilboa Fossil Forest—and you couldn’t have all that without some conflict and romance.

For more about the book, and a link to the first chapter, go to www.westkillcreek.com

Available through Amazon, North Country Books, and local independent bookstores.

423 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Shawn Purcell

4 books1 follower
Shawn Purcell is a reference librarian, past journal editor and president of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and current inhabitant of the rather imperiled planet Earth.

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Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Profile Image for Julia.
2,030 reviews59 followers
May 19, 2016
A post- apocalyptic novel set in Schoharie County— sign me up!
I should have loved this, instead I admire it. I wish the book had begun on about page 91, when the main character gets to Schoharie County. He could have told his new friends and the audience that he lived through the plague that killed nearly everyone living/ hiding in a basement in a tent.

Instead, he describes for pages his favorite movies, ancient history, post-apocalyptic television and movie plots, philosophy, even political debates. The back of the book calls this ‘contemplative,’ that’s not how I’d describe it, but I’m glad I read it. The main character and the people he ends up living among live in the hamlet of Blenheim, on West Kill Creek, a real place.

“The average number of paupers, has been sixty-two, many of whom were once energetic business men… While the majority of the remainder are those who belong to a class, to use the parlance of the people, known as ‘Sloughters,’ whose morality was lost long years ago… and are content to eke out a miserable existence in licentious habits, until the winter returns…” William Roscoe’s 1882 History of Schoharie County.

I borrowed this from the my local public library.
Profile Image for Roberta .
1,165 reviews22 followers
July 11, 2016
I bought this book only because of a review on the New York History Blog. I am not the world's biggest fan of post-apocalyptic fiction. It's all pretty depressing. However, it made a difference for me that the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it is set in an area that I am at least semi-familiar with. The sharp right turn outside of Cobleskill where we have to hold our coffee so it doesn't spill, is the same right turn that Dar, the main character, misses because he is going too fast.

I also found the large dose of local history and geography held my interest over the winter where other authors would have filled the gap with additional violence. A certain amount of violence seems to be required in post-apocalyptic fiction but in this case it doesn't completely take over the story. Cozy replaces cannibalism.

But wait! Just because I enjoyed the book overall doesn't mean I'm not going to nit pick!

On page 15: Father died and children are worried because mother can not be convinced to go to nursing home. Their mother is age 59. OMG!

On page 128: Yes, there's a law for that. Who is going to enforce it post apocalypse?

On page 191: Warren Zevon didn't die of lung cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma is NOT lung cancer, and it is NOT caused by smoking.

On page 358: The signs are blue and yellow, not blue and orange.

And, if his father was a "diner type" why was he at McDonald's when there is a traditional diner that serves a solid breakfast less than a mile away? OK, the waitress doesn't know the difference between rye and wheat bread but they do the eggs right and have good sausage.
Profile Image for Ed Hillenbrand.
59 reviews6 followers
March 18, 2014
Sounds like an odd title for a review, yes? Consider the jandra: "Alas Babylon", "Dies the Fire", "Under a Graveyard Sky" to name several are all written from the perspective of Libertarians or Conservatives. No so with "West Kill Creek" whose author's heritage as a North East Liberal shines through from the very beginning. This makes "West Kill Creek" different enough to warrant a read. After all, not everyone who survives the apocalypse is going to stand up for themselves and others.

Purcell's intimate knowledge of Schoharie County and surrounding areas makes this book work. The strategies employed by "Dar", the main character, to survive are plausible; and that is what we ask for in these books: are they believable? The answer to that is "Yes. I can see people trying to survive that way." For that reason alone I would reccomend to any fan of the post apocalypse to go and read this book.

The last reason is it made me think! This book is different enough that days after I finished it I am still running parts of the story through my mind, examining and reexamining them.

Go get the book, I think you will be glad you did.
18 reviews
June 22, 2014
A virus strikes, killing many people worldwide. Dar, a survivor, stumbles across a group of people living in Schoharie County, NY, south of Blenheim on the Westkill Creek. The book examines how they survive as well as incorporating historic information regarding the area. This is a chilling book, not as dark as "The Road" but not as benign as "World Made By Hand". This is a good read, particularly if you are knowledgeable about this part of New York State.
May 10, 2014
The author did an excellent job of weaving an interesting tale using local history and humor.
His wit and knowledge of the Schoharie County area come shining through as one journeys through this extremely well written survival book. It is a must read for people who live in the Schoharie County area. It is also highly recommended for those who enjoy spirited laughter.
Profile Image for Pamela Hale.
314 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2020
This was pretty cool because: it's written by a local author and the setting/s are all local places I've visited, it's a post-apocalypse sci-fi(always a favorite with me!), and I just happened to agree with the political opinions and movie preferences of the main character. I only gave it 3 stars because this author is a first timer who definitely either needs more practice or a better editor.
8 reviews
February 5, 2018
I read it in two days and enjoyed it. I will re-read and hope to see the second book of a trilogy coming soon. Amazing research and local history.
March 27, 2020
The potential for a great story is here, but. The author has just too much reference. Some history of the area is awesome, but at some points I felt like I was reading an encyclopedia. He also gets somewhat bogged down in his own opinions. I blame editing. As a story, I wanted better character development, and more history of the survivors. I wanted to know more about Gwen.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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