Review: Apocalypse Weird: Medium Talent (The Dead Keys Book 1) by Forbes West

AW-Medium TalentAbout Medium Talent

Three years after the great storm destroyed the planet, three years after the demonic undead rose up to hunt the survivors, Wendy Wicker scavenges and steals in the deadly ruins of Florida to keep her adopted family alive. In a post-apocalyptic Key West that is plagued by hunger and ruled by an amoral bureaucracy, a life of crime is the only way to live.

After Wendy betrays a couple of passengers she was to take north on board her fishing boat, her life takes an strange turn and she must confront some dark secrets as to what really happened the night the world ended, while surviving the monstrous creatures that infest the waters around her hometown and the never ending threat of an evil woman that cannot die...

An homage to Ernest Hemingway’s To Have or Have Not and George Romero’s Living Dead series of films, let Apocalypse Weird take you on a fast paced voyage through the dead Florida Keys and into an violent noir tale filled with time travel, black magic, suppressed memories and what life is really like after the end of the world.

About the Author

Forbes West was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and graduated with a Master's Degree in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach. He currently lives and works mostly in San Francisco, CA and owns a home in Ojima, Japan- a village five hours south of Tokyo by car that is in the foothills of Mt. Fuji.

My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from the author for review.]

We join this apocalypse already in progress.

It's been several years since a massive storm decimated the world. The undead are roaming Florida, and abominations inhabit the sea. The government has largely fallen, with refugee districts under the charge of the Supply Org, a welfare agency turned gangster. At the heart of it all is smuggler Wendy Wicker, captain of the Medium Talent, who finds herself on the wrong side of Hoxhaist revolutionaries.

Forbes West does a stand-up job of bringing the muggy, heated atmosphere of the Florida Keys to life in this ninth entry to the Apocalypse Weird continuum, and you can practically feel the briny sea on your skin while reading. There's a certain freshness to West's take on the AW tropes, and a few surprises, too, which makes this a great addition to the developing Weird mythos.

By jumping forward into a post-apocalyptic setting, West is able to give us some characters who have grown world-weary by the disasters plaguing the world. They're crusty, battle-scarred survivors who've seen it all and then some. This spares us a retread on already well-covered familiar territory, like the Day of Blindness or the anticipatory build-up of a new world-ender. All that has come and gone, and we're plunked down right into the thick of things.

There's a wonderfully noir-ish feel to the story as well, and Wendy Wicker is a truly interesting character in her own right. She's lost her husband, is detached from her current family, and half-mad from all she's been through. She's the type of gal who dances a jig after getting the draw on a thug who wants her dead, and then gets sloshed at the bar.

In addition to giving the Keys a dystopic, lived-in familiarity, populated by intriguing personalities, West also puts a terrific spin on another AW staple: the demonic 88 and their Black Hand. It's a wonderfully nifty spin that's a far cry from prior representations of these roguish villains.

It's Forbes West's ability to take the established conceits of the Apocalypse Weird series and twist them upside down and over around on itself again that was the most appreciated feature of Medium Talent. The story and situations are a cool breeze of fresh air after several introductory tales that overlapped a lot of familiar territory. In Medium Talent, the familiar is kept far off in the background, but still draws enough threads to connect with all that's come before. It also helps expand on the building mythology that runs through the backbone of the AW books, while forging ahead with its own unique charter. West gives us an intriguing spin on what's expected of an Apocalypse Weird book, while dragging in plenty of strange details to keep the pages turning.

Buy Medium Talent At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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