Books of the Dead Press / 356 pages / 11 April 2012
Urban legends of being buried alive have always had the power to send a chill down a listener’s spine. Imagine awakening to find yourself trapped under a crushing weight of earth. The air rapidly running out. Your panic escalating into madness. No one to hear your cries for deliverance.
Tim Lebbon knows that fear, but he also knows how to ratchet it up about a thousand times. With Lebbon, dead seldom means dead and gone; his characters are more likely to come shambling up to you, moaning incoherently, and looking for a bite to eat. A bite of the living, that is. In Berserk, Lebbon uncovers a new horror to keep readers in goosebumps.
Buried somewhere on a bleak plain that the British military closed down a decade ago is a gruesome secret, an “training accident” that took the lives of 15 soldiers and ended a program that the townsfolk still speak of only in whispers. When a carelessly spoken word is overhead by Tom Roberts, the father of one of the dead soldiers, the secret may just become public knowledge. Or, Tom may well be added to the mass grave he discovers.
When Tom is unable to forget the information he has gleaned, he sets in motion a nightmare that threatens everything he loves. If this secret is revealed, it will set off a chain reaction that, at the very least, will bring down the government, and at the worst, end life as we know it. Because what he finds buried on the plain is both stranger and stronger than he could ever imagine and he has set it loose again after ten years.
In those ten years, the only survivor of a massacre has lain in the ground, trapped and undead, building up an unquenchable rage. What Tom finds appears to be a pathetic little corpse, but when the little girl “awakes” he learns she is anything but a helpless innocent. She has lain in a living hell and she has not forgotten the man who consigned her to grave. The man hasn’t forgotten her, either. He has spent the last decade making sure the secret of what happened on Salisbury plain stays buried. Mr. Wolf will do anything to make sure what he killed to protect stays hidden and anyone and anything that gets in his way is expendable.
Berserk ends with many of its questions unanswered, leaving the reader wanting to know more, to unearth every unsettling, horrifying secret. Don’t worry… I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Lebbon is working on a follow-up that will take his growing audience ever deeper into the darkness of his fervid imagination. And with his talent for non-stop, breakneck pacing it’s practically a given that we’ll all be glued to any upcoming volumes, too. No matter how much we might want to look away from the horror.