Along with every other bookseller, I have witnessed the birth of a new genre. Although it's a combination of horror/fantasy/sci-fi/romance, it is that very combination that makes it stand on its own. And I have a name for it, although booksellers probably wouldn't want to attach the sign to the section. But, indie bookstores being indie bookstores, they can do as they please (I thank them for that) and they are welcome to assign any title they want to this newish genre.
It is the End-of-the-World...as I know it.
Over the years, I've been very impressed with some of the EotW titles that have found a place on my bookshelves. One that comes to mind is 'The Stand' by Little Stevie King (sorry, Mr. King, but I give you that moniker with the greatest affection and respect). It is a perfect story of good vs. evil, and told in the most horrific way. As time went on, I sought out more EotW stories. 'The Passage', by Justin Cronin, is another great example, and it, too, has a place on my bookshelf. Both books are very dense, and take a while to get through. They are also full of characters that are fully established. You almost wear your heart on your sleeve while reading the stories.
And then 'White Horse', the debut novel by Alex Adams, landed on my desk.
The book may be slim, but the story is anything but. It grabs you and won't let go until you reach the very last page. Of course, it does contain the 'good vs. evil' theme. There is a bad guy (a really bad guy with a few surprises of his own). And then there is Zoe, our thirty year-old heroine, a strong, quiet woman who stoically confronts the pain and sadness surrounding her.
Because she wants to go to college, she earns money by cleaning animal cages in a laboratory for a pharmaceutical firm. When a mysterious vase shows up in her apartment, she begins to see a psychiatrist who not only helps her try to understand the reason for the vase's appearance, but also tries to help her get through the grief she is experiencing from the death of her husband. But soon her life begins to spin out of balance when everyone around her either grows sick and dies, or changes in the strangest ways.
It is Zoe's personal journey that is the most interesting aspect of this story. Her interactions with those who harbor either the most evil of intentions, or the most loving, are handled with great insight. Ms. Adams writes short, clean sentences, and not a word is wasted; her style is the perfect way to expose the mounting tension of Zoe's journey. And in this case, what doesn't kill Zoe makes her stronger.
Although 'White Horse' won't be released until April 2012, I recommend that you put it on your reading list. It's an unforgettable story.