About the Author
Currently residing in College Station, Texas, Chris Pourteau has made a living at one time or another as a teacher, a lab technician helping to recover one of Christopher Columbus's ships, and a technical writer and editor.
If you'd like to say howdy, feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit him at chrispourteau.thirdscribe.com.
[Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from the author for review.]
Although we've been to Texas before, in Michael Bunker and Nick Cole's Texocalypse Now, that story was focused on five-year hence in the Apocalypse Weird bookverse. This gives Chris Pourteau a chance to establish how, exactly, the Lone Star State got so wonderfully f'ed up and what some of the survivors went through.
Pourteau's entry is a wonderful hodge-podge of maniacs, genetic manipulation, and a struggle to survive. Our main protagonists are a separated couple and their daughter, this family forced to reunite under the looming threat of a series of hurricanes. All of this combines to create a cli-fi thriller with some dashes of horror that works tremendously well, and at the time of this writing, might even be my personal favorite in the Apocalypse Weird series thus far.
To top it off, Pourteau introduces the demon Id, a specter birthed in the eye of a hurricane and who has a penchant for frying hapless victims with bolts of lightning. I'm looking forward to her taking on an expanded role in future volumes, but she's established nicely here and I really dug the formation of a Charles Manson-esque cult devoted to her.
At its core, The Serenity Strain is all about family drama. Whether it's the anxiety generated from a feuding couple forced into confined spaces and relearning how to cope as a family unit in the wake of separation and distrust, or the burgeoning creation of a twisted hierarchy between the escaped prisoners as they seek Id. It's really compelling stuff and the twin tales work as counterpoint to the other, helping to elevate what could have simply been a tried-and-true good-versus-evil story into something that's far more emotionally resonant. Getting to know both of these "families" makes the powerful finale especially meaningful.
I also have to give props to Ben Adams, who created a couple of illustrations for the book, one of Id and one of the book's primary antagonist's, Maestro. They're really beautiful work! (I'm not sure if his art appeared any of the other AW titles, but finding them in this particular ARC was a wonderful surprise). Adams is also responsible for the stunning cover to Michael Bunker's forthcoming Brother, Frankenstein, so be sure to check out his work. He's got lots of talent!