Wake by Elizabeth Knox (Victoria University Press, $35)
Reviewed by Patrick Kenzie
Elizabeth Knox’s horror story weaves several approaches to the genre into its narrative, all set in and around the fictional town of Kahukura. In the course of one bloody afternoon, normality disappears in a wave of madness and death. In the middle of it all are a small-town cop and 13 other survivors who, for one reason or another, are immune from whatever is causing the insanity around them.
The first 70 pages describe some of the most shocking scenes I’ve read in any novel, and one sequence in particular stands out as particularly brutal. While the initial carnage is astonishing in its harshness, the rest of the book evolves into a very different kind of horror story. The survivors have to learn to live with each other and try to hold out hope for the future despite being hopelessly alone, locked in with a madness monster that would give H.P Lovecraft nightmares. As the back cover of Wake says: “With an invisible monster you never know when you’re in danger and when you’re safe – if you retreat to your fortress you can’t be sure you haven’t locked it in with you”. Read more »