Greg Chapman’s novella is a tight piece of prose about the end of the world and the redemption of those who remain after Judgement Day.
Despite the religious thrust of the story, Chapman is an up-and-coming Australian horror writer who shows great promise in this decidedly violent and graphic short tale. It is not only a dark and moody story, but the entire cast of unlikeable characters draw the reader into their misery.
Egotist David, his pathetically weak wife Marci, and their petulant daughter Keley are rescued by Amos after being attacked by three men intent on raping the women. Amos sprouts biblical quotes, considering himself the saviour of mankind. He’s a prophet with impossible knowledge, adding credence to his claims.
Surprisingly ungrateful, David and his family fear Amos almost as much as they feared their attackers. In the desolate wasteland of the apocalypse, trust is a luxury they can’t afford, and their rejection of Amos leads their rescuer to abduct them and force them to join his flock. The grim landscape of their forsaken new world is but a prelude to the unhappy ending we know is coming. But for who?
At less than a hundred pages, The Eschatologist leaves little time to flesh out the characters too much, but Chapman makes up for this by providing vivid imagery of the damned landscape the characters now live in. While centring around the four main characters, there are several others to introduce throughout the novella and, while these extras don’t get much of a look-in, it’s time taken away from getting to know the main players.
Even so, the writing is tight, the descriptions are… descriptive… and the action is dark enough to want to complete the novella in one sitting. Chapman’s storytelling is compelling from the opening sentence.
The ending comes upon the reader a little too fast and ends a little too quickly, particularly after Chapman milks the build-up so successfully. This is an earlier work however, with his first full novel, Hollow House, already on the market.
The Eschatologist is out now in paperback and eBook through Voodoo Press.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 7