Tuesday 18 August 2015

REVIEW: Duncan P Bradshaw - Those Who Survive (Class Four #1)

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Horror Company
Publication Date: 13th July 2015
Pages: 328


A copy of Those Who Survive (Class Four #1) was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Duncan P Bradshaw in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by the Sinister Horror Company.

Until a week or so ago, I had never read Duncan P Bradshaw. I read his debut novel Class Three last week. You can see my review of it here. I absolutely loved it, which is hard for me to do with a zombie novel.

Those Who Survive is sort of a continuation of the story. They work just as well as standalone novels but to be honest I would recommend you read Class Three before Those Who Survive. Some characters carry over and it gives you a bit of continuity. Also it will make you smile when you see some of the characters come back. So, did the new found faith in zombie novels continue with Those Who Survive courtesy of Mr Bradshaw?

It’s been months since the virus spread and the world fell apart. The dead keep on dying, then they keep on coming back to life, in a manner of speaking.

Nathan is eight years old. He has lost his mum and everyone else he knew in the previous life. Francis is a grown man. He is struggling to survive after his own previous life ended horrifically. He has taken on the role of protector for Nathan. He has vowed to keep him safe from the dead.

They bump into Phil who tells them of a safe place to go where they will find people that will provide them shelter, food, friendship and hopefully safety.
It’s going to take them a while to get there. On their travels they will have to battle against the undead and a band of religious freaks hell bent on turning the world over to their new “god”.

In an abandoned biscuit factory, some other survivors scrape by day to day. The place is run by “The Gaffer”. He runs a tight ship but it is needed to stay safe. Within this group is a small number of people who attend a session each week with a shrink to try and relieve their pressures and pains. Their individual stories are harrowing but necessary.

The Gaffer’s methods are needed more than people believe. People need to pay attention if they want to survive.

OK. Second zombie book in a week. Both written by the same man, Duncan P Bradshaw. I thought I might zombie overload. In truth it’s quite the opposite. I am now left gagging for Class Four #2.

So what are our characters like in this little jaunt? Superb. Every single one of them. We have all different shapes and sizes, alive, dead and undead. We have goodies, we have baddies and we have ones in between that have no idea what they are. It would take forever to go through them all so here is a snapshot.

Nathan is a scared little boy who has had to grow up very very quickly. He still likes reading his comics but he knows exactly what to do as each situation arises. Francis is an ex-security guard that had to go through what no man should when the disaster struck. He now has the mission to protect Nathan and he will do whatever it takes to do this. He would give his life for the boy. They meet up with a few others on their travels that band together with them. Zena and Russ become their closest allies in times of need. Again normal people who just do what is needed to be done.

In the biscuit factory The Gaffer is ruthless. He needs to be to protect everyone. Not everyone believes he is right but he knows what he is doing. Our characters in the “self-help” group are the leader Steve and a few others Matt, Sylvia, Dee and Anton. They each give their own stories in the process of recovery and rediscovery. They are all totally different people with totally different stories and problems.

In the religious “freak” group. The characters are a bit shadier. You don’t know as much about them but you do form your own opinions of them from early on in the story. They are nuts. They are very dangerous.

In Class Three, we were given the opening scenes in the story, the beginning of the end of the world. That book concentrated on the first twenty four hours after the disaster hit. It was a book that, to me, showed the human aspect of a zombie apocalypse. It was full of horror and it was full of laughs. It was a completely different approach on the whole zombie thing that had me glued to it from cover to cover. Read my review and you will get the full picture.

Those Who Survive is a continuation of the story but not totally in the same vain. This is much darker. A lot of the humour has gone. This is a story of struggles for survival. Again the thing that really stands out for me is the way Mr Bradshaw writes in the human element. Too many storied of this nature feature on the zombies and the evil they do. They go for the sensationalist angle and the “blockbuster” theme. Those Who Survive gives you a perspective that you will find yourself nodding sagely to. You will appreciate the way it is written because you will appreciate the fact that you would probably act and react in the same way as the characters are. I really cannot emphasise just how much this is a perfect example of storytelling. Not just another zombie book.

I need to tell you about a couple of specific parts in this book without giving too much away. The scenes where the “self-help” group meet are absolutely fantastic. What you have is a room full of people sitting around, telling their individual stories to help themselves and the others around them. These stories are all totally different and come from totally different people. The thing you will notice when you read them is just how real they seem. They are written so beautifully that you become totally absorbed in their stories living every harrowing second as if you were right there with them. From the point of view of how the actual book is put together, this section is also so very unique. I’m not going to tell you what it is but I will say the formatting for this part is pure genius in how it’s done.

The second part I need to tell you about is where Nathan and Francis come across what seems to be a circus on their travels. What happens in this sequence is a surreal battle to stay alive in a freak show of enormous proportions. These scenes are so totally unexpected you would think they were in the wrong book but again they are perfectly written. When you finish this section you will wonder what the hell you have just read but you will feel wonderfully fulfilled that you did. I had a vision of Rob Zombie sitting reading this section clapping his hands with glee but wishing he had written it at the same time. Think House of 1000 Corpses on speed. By the way if you have never seen that film you are just weird. It’s a classic.

I really need to stop writing about this now because I could keep going for hours and hours. This book is so damned bloody good for so many damned bloody good reasons!

To summarise: a world after the end of the world. Full of zombies. Full of people doing what people always seem to do and trying to take advantage of the situation at hand. Full of the normal religious nut jobs that surface to try and put things right. More importantly full of real people with real stories to tell that make this book an absolute pleasure to read.

I don’t have a lot of money to bet with but if I did I would be putting a hell of a lot of it on a bet that Duncan P Bradshaw is going to become a very big name in this world of writing. His style is so easy to read. It’s fantastically realistic. It totally draws you into the story making you feel, see and smell everything.

When you see the end of the book coming. You want to drag it out further and further. I for one am sorry I have finished this book. I am jealous that if you pick it up, you have the wonders of it still to discover.

Most of all, I am excited for Class Four #2.

General rating:

★★★★★ Truly wonderful.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ In so many ways!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy Those Who Survive (Class Four #1) or any other books from Duncan P Bradshaw or indeed anything at all from Amazon. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

The dead rule the world.

In the months after a deadly virus has swept across the planet, an eight year old boy and his appointed protector live from day to day. After a chance encounter they head for sanctuary. To get there, they will have to run the gauntlet of the inhabitants of this new world.

Ruled over by The Gaffer, a group of survivors holed up in a derelict factory struggle to maintain order and stability. Inside, those affected the most share their stories, hoping to come to terms with what has happened and what they've lost.

However, a clandestine operative in their midst lays the groundwork for an assault, the likes of which none of them have ever seen or could hope to prepare for.

These are the stories of those who survive.

Part-Time Author/Full-Time Loon.

One day upon waking, as if from some frightful nightmare, I sat at my laptop and typed out letters, which formed words, slowly they created sentences. People read it and said, that's okay that is, have a biscuit. And I said yes.

I live in Wiltshire, in Southern England with my wife Debbie and our two cats, Rafa and Pepe, they just miaowed a hello at you. Between bouts of prolonged washing up and bungie cord knitting, I type out the weird and wonderful things that run around my head.

My debut novel, zom-com Class Three, was released in November 2014, the first book in the follow up trilogy, Class Four: Those Who Survive is out in July 2015. I'm then going to try and get some novellas released which are on something other than the undead.

You can see more of Duncan at his website.

Duncan’s author page is here.

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