A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F Paul Wilson
LIFE CAME OUT OF AFRICA…
But now it’s death’s turn….
It spreads like a plague but it’s not a disease. Medical science is helpless against the deadly autoimmune reaction caused by the bite of the swarming African flies. Billions are dead, more are dying. Across the world, governments are falling, civilization is crumbling, and everywhere those still alive fear the death carried in the skies.
Some say the flies are a freak mutation, others say they’re man made, but as hope of beating them fades, most turn to the only comfort left and see the plague as God’s will. He sent a deadly deluge the last time He was upset with mankind. This time He has darkened the sky with deadly flies. And perhaps that is true, for so many of the afflicted speak with their dying breaths of seeing God coming for them.
But not everyone dies. A very few seem immune. They call themselves mungus and preach acceptance of the plague, encouraging people to allow themselves to be bitten by “the flies of the Lord” so that they may join Him in the afterlife.
Nigel, an investigative reporter, searches the apocalyptic landscape of plague-ravaged England in search of Bandora, a kidnapped African boy. On a quest for personal redemption as well as the truth, his search takes him away from the troubles he can no longer face at home, and into the world of the head mungu, a man who speaks truth in riddles and has no fear of the African flies.
Apocalypses, they’re like buses aren’t they. You wait for one to come along and two arrive at once. No sooner had I started reading Pandemic by Scott Sigler than A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson arrived. Both books deal with the end of the world, but they couldn’t be more different from one another. Sigler’s latest is all about the action, violence and horrific adventure while A Necessary End is a far more intimate, personal exploration of an apocalyptic event.
It’s the characters that really made this story for me. Nigel and his partner Abby are wonderfully observed. Their actions and reactions to events are perfectly judged and never jar the reader out of the world that the authors have created. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t just a typical by the numbers apocalypse; it’s also an insightful character study. There’s something fascinating watching people trying to live their lives in exceptional circumstances, it’s mesmerizing stuff.
The element of the story that really struck a chord is the different way in which both these characters come to terms with the inevitability of events. Nigel is driven by reason, science, rationality and the need to discover the source of the insects. His nature is such that he just can’t sit idly by and wait for the world to stop. He has to know why, no matter what the cost of that knowledge is. Meanwhile, Abby is the polar opposite. She has returned to a faith she thought lost, letting her feelings and intuition guide her decisions. She’s convinced that the apocalypse is all part of some grand plan and she is happy to let events unfold naturally. She is resolute that there is something better waiting for them all on the other side.
It’s interesting; in some respects the end of the world feels almost inconsequential in comparison to the breakdown of the couple’s relationship. Abby has a serious medical condition and Nigel doesn’t know how to deal with it. This causes resentment on both sides, and when we first meet them they’re dancing around the issues they have. Neither is willing to voice their fears, both are so paralyzed by the potential outcome. There is a genuine sense of sadness that permeates both characters. The deterioration of their life together mirrors the larger events going on around the couple. Their interactions act almost as a microcosm to the world surrounding them.
On top of all that, let’s not forget that this is still a horror novel at its dark heart and there are a number of suitably gruesome moments. I’ll admit, I got so caught up in the lives of the two leads that most of these horrific scenes managed to catch me totally unaware. The good news is because we’re talking about vast plagues of insects proceedings do sometimes rate quite highly on the old ick-o-meter. I can tell you this in no uncertain terms – I’m never setting foot in an airport again.
I have to admit a certain amount of curiosity whenever I find myself reading a collaborative effort between two authors. It becomes almost a game to try and spot each writer’s contributions. There is always a concern that different writing styles will clash and disrupt the flow of a narrative but I’m glad to say that’s not the case in this instance. Wilson and Pinborough are both accomplished storytellers in their own right and their styles complement one another well to form a truly compelling tale.
If you’re a fan of apocalyptic fiction and are looking for something that is a little bit more character driven than your standard fare, this could well be the book for you. It’s always a pleasure to discover writing that’s introspective, insightful and emotive. I strongly suggest you seek this little gem out.
A Necessary End is published by Shadowridge Press and is available now.