The Silence: Tim Lebbon
Reviewed By Steve Stred
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books (17 April 2015)
Before I discovered how to really use Twitter and before I discovered #bookstagram and those two fantastic communities, I was a simple man. I would (gasp) head to the local Chapters bookstore, first in Nelson (when it was Coles) then in Abbotsford (also Coles) and then in Calgary. My wife always hated these excursions because she would know just how long I’d be spending in the Horror sections in each store. The book stores had the books stocked well, but spine out. So I would have to pull each book out to look at the cover and read the synopsis. This is how I would find the books I wanted to read and the books I would eventually purchase.
At some point in Calgary, I was perusing the book shelves when I spotted a book with an intriguing cover. I took a picture but waited to purchase the book, as I had a number of Bobsled related expenses coming up and just didn’t have the extra $9.99 to buy the paperback.
Flash forward to the release of the movie “A Quiet Place.” A number of articles were released with headlines such as; “If you liked the movie A Quiet Place you’ll love these books!” Well, I hadn’t watched A Quiet Place when it came out, but I checked out the books and on that list was “The Silence” by Tim Lebbon. Something about that name clicked and when I looked at my book photos – there was the cover for “Coldbrook” also by Lebbon. I chuckled at the coincidence (as I’m chuckling now thinking about all you suckers reading this who thought that the book I took a picture of was The Silence, SUCKERS!) So I snagged “The Silence.” Then when I became a more active Twitter user I started following Lebbon and saw that a movie was coming out. Such an exciting piece of news! So I had to get to reading the book.
So I have.
And now ladies and gentlemen of the jury – I present to you my 4.5 star review of “The Silence” by Tim Lebbon.
You’ve read the comparisons, seen the fodder saying “oh here we go again, haha, another book where people can’t look or hear or see.”
The Silence is firmly a post-apocalyptic creature feature, which I think sets it apart from a few other similar releases, simply because the creatures are front and centre from Chapter One and they are not kept away from the reader. We get their descriptions early on and we know exactly how they operate and where they came from. There have been some comparisons made by others to bats. Whether this is something that scares you or not, the similar sonar/echolocation adaptation was great and it really made the essence of ‘silence’ paramount. They swarm and kill and are directed to the sound.
The story rolls back and forth between 1st person POV and 3rd person. The 1st person POV is from teenager Ally. She’s been left deaf following a car accident years before that also took the lives of her grandparents. The 3rd person is told more from what the father, Huw experiences but doesn’t always stay with him. Because of Ally’s injury, the family has all learned a modified sign language which allows them to communicate.
I really only had two issues with the book. The first was initially I found the POV narrative change jarring and at some points slightly disorienting with descriptions. Because Ally couldn’t hear what was being said in a few interactions, the reader was left to assume dialogue and resulting action. The second (and this will feel like 100% nitpicking) was that I hated Huw’s name. It’s not a name I’m familiar with/have experience with and when I was reading it I just didn’t know how to pronounce it. It sounds like a minor grievance but he was an integral character throughout, so I would have preferred a simple name like Frank or Dave or something.
As for the rest of the book – I loved how at the start of each chapter it featured snippets from news reports and social media accounts. I didn’t like World War Z and how it bounced around, but Lebbon’s use of this was great and pointed. The characters that Lebbon introduced were well thought out and I enjoyed that they continued to make choices that felt real. When you read a book like this, of course, the question will constantly pop up about ‘what would you do?’ if this actually happened. I didn’t find any of their decisions or actions irrational or ridiculous. Everything was done with survival in mind, which played really well and I found really engaging.
The last thing I’ll touch on is the ‘ending.’ Like many post-apocalyptic books, the story just kind of ends. This is always an expected thing, for me at least. Very rarely is a book like this going to have a definitive ending. With the release of the Netflix film, the ending will, of course, raise questions about Lebbon revisiting the family and delivering a sequel, but as it stands the ending played out really nicely and Lebbon did allude to a possible way for the creatures to die off.
For me, the entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking about the scary stats related to bees. As the book went on Lebbon described how the vesps, as they were called, would kill birds as they flew or made noise. The same would be true with most insects and of course with bees. There’s a line attributed to Einstein, that paraphrased says; ‘if all of the world’s bees were to die, humans would only live for another 4-5 years.’ So reading a story like this, I knew a vague ending would come, but I wondered just how long humanity would survive with an invasive species such as the vesps launched into our lives.
Overall for me, this was a fun read, with a defined beginning and middle which worked great to set up the chaos of what occurs ¾ of the way through the book. I should have read this far sooner but I’m glad I finally got to it.
Star Rating (out of 5): 4.5*
A suspenseful masterpiece from New York Times bestselling author Tim Lebbon.
In the darkness of a underground cave, blind creatures hunt by sound.
Then there is light, voices, and they feed…
Swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive; to whisper is to summon death.
As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea.
Deaf for years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival.
To leave their home, to shun others.
But what kind of world will be left?
Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.
Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?
Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.
Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?
But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.
While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.
The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.
The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.
Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.
But what if it’s not…
What if there is something out there?
The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”
With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.
Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.
Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…