Book covers



Price: £8.99 



It cannot be easy creating subtle covers for a novel about a zombie apocalypse but Red Rattle Books have managed it for the latest novel by Jack Swift.  There is not a zombie in sight in the cover image but the inference is clear.  We have another transformational plague.  In his previous novel Cool Blood Walk, Jack Swift revealed he was just as interested in the relationships in a wounded working class Yorkshire family as the encounters with vampires.   The book was addictive and evidence that Swift knows how to balance horror action and the tension that exists in relationships between men and women.

The same balance and readability is maintained in Slow Lump Jump.   The book begins with a raid in a seaside town that leads to an encounter with the slow lumps.  These creatures are brain eaters like zombies but they are also capable of thought.  The surviving humans have also become accustomed to how the slow lumps look.  This allows Jack Swift to add sexual twists to the already complex relations that will develop between Mavis, Mike and his wife Ann.   A good horror novel should provide shocks.  The shocks in Slow Lump Jump are not dependent on gore but twisted notions that readers may not wish to think about late at night.  To say more will mean leaving spoilers. 

As in Cool Blood Walk, there is a curiosity from Jack Swift about alliances, how and why they are formed and the ease with which they shift between individuals when circumstances change or events happen.  Slow Lump Jump has the familiar zombie ingredient of a trek across a hostile landscape but the journey zigzags.  Friendships are redefined and explored, and by the end of the book any destination feels like a mirage.  The journey leads to surprises and a finale that is shaped by the individual we do not expect to dominate or lead.  Survival in Slow Lump Jump is random but even those who survive may not prevail.  

Jack Swift has a minimalist approach to writing.  He is not afraid to lean on dialogue to progress a scene.  He can also, though, handle the several ambitious set pieces that define the novel.  The skirmish between the bandits and the Army at the Roman ruins on a cold snowy day is packed with incident.  There is also a fabulous battle between the gang of human scavengers and the slow lumps.   Not only does Swift imagine the battles but he also explains well the consequences of conflict, the routine but demanding aftermath.  There is also an interesting torture scene that involves waterboarding. 

The relationship between the humans and the slow lumps is very different to what normally exists in zombie fiction.  The physical nature of the slow slumps makes the book essential reading.  Tempting though it is, it cannot be revealed in a book review.  Instead, what can be stressed are the surprises, the odd human reactions to the apocalypse and the sense of a previous world that is not just being reinvented but sought. 


By Irene Folkers