Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 340 Pages
Category: Science Fiction
At a Glance: Crisped + Sere is a post-apocalyptic tour de force and a most worthy sequel in the Immemorial Year Series.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Twenty-one days.
In a world ravaged by fire and descending into madness, Cavalo has been given an ultimatum by the dark man known as Patrick: return Lucas to him and the cannibalistic Dead Rabbits, or the town of Cottonwood and its inhabitants will be destroyed.
But Lucas has a secret embedded into his skin that promises to forever alter the shape of things to come—a secret that Cavalo must decide if it’s worth dying over, even as he wrestles with his own growing attraction to the muted psychopath.
Cavalo has twenty-one days to prepare for war. Twenty-one days to hold what is left of his shredded sanity together. Twenty-one days to convince the people of Cottonwood to rise up and fight back. Twenty-one days to unravel the meaning behind the marks that cover Lucas.
A meaning that leads to a single word and a place of unimaginable power: Dworshak.
Review: I truly have no idea how to begin this review of TJ Klune’s latest release, Crisped + Sere. I’m not even sure what genre I would put this book in. There are definitely some horror and sci-fi elements to it as well as a fledgling romance, strange and warped as that romance might be. This is the second installment of Klune’s post-apocalyptic Immemorial Year series, and it is a stunning sequel. In book format this is a graphic novel of a sort, complete with beautiful illustrations. Unfortunately, as an eBook you see none of the gorgeous artwork that accompanies this amazing story. Just a reminder–if you have not read the first book in this series, Withered + Sere, then you should stop now and do so at once. Otherwise this review will contain spoilers that you will regret reading and also will make little or no sense to you without the first novel to provide context.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very dark book, if possible, even creepier than the first and yet I could not put it down. Following immediately on the heels of the previous one, we are immediately reminded that Cavalo, Lucas (one of the dead rabbits), Bad Dog and SIRS have been given twenty-one days by Patrick, the leader of the cannibalistic tribe referred to as the bad rabbits, to turn over Lucas or be destroyed. Going against everything Cavalo is—a hermit at best, a fairly insane killer who barely maintains his grip on sanity at worst, he must turn to others for help if he has even the slightest chance of defeating Patrick and his plan to essentially rule the world, such as it is. Remember, this is a hollowed out earth struggling to return from the nightmare of radiation fallout that left few unscathed survivors, who now struggle against those who rule by terror and blood. Cavalo himself has lost both his wife and his son to the madness and this, along with many other dark memories, haunts his every waking moment.
Now Cavalo must convince Hank and Alma, who run the small town of Cottonwood, to stand with him in order to protect Lucas. Since the last time he saw them was when he killed some of the mysterious militia who appeared to “save” the town from the dead rabbits, it is unlikely he is going to be received with open arms. Despite his knowing that they were not there to help the town but rather torture Lucas and use him as bait to capture Patrick, leaving the men who appeared to be the town’s only hope for the future dead, and running away with Lucas in tow, means the town folk have little good to say about our violent hero.
When he discovers the dark secret that Hank and Alma have been keeping in order to save their town, Cavalo is sickened at the revelation. But mere days remain, and despite his distaste over the discovery, Cavalo must become the savior he never wanted to be and lead the town in preparing for battle. Will they lose the fight against Patrick and his army of bloodthirsty cannibals? Most definitely, but the alternative is losing Lucas and unleashing a evil so pure that the small remnant of people who are trying their best to survive in this hostile land will perish for sure. Despite Cavalo’s desire to hole up in his prison with Lucas, SIRS and Bad Dog, and live out what remains of his insane existence, he cannot let the small town of Cottonwood perish. But lives will be lost and hope will balance on the blade of a knife that may be Cavalo’s own undoing.
I so wish I could do this novel justice. When I tell you I was riveted and could not put this one down, I am most assuredly understating the impact this book had on me. It was in parts terrifying—to watch the horrors unfold and to see the destruction that Patrick was able to bring. However, this story was also glorious, particularly those passages that explored the growing relationship between Lucas and Cavalo; the moments between Bad Dog and Cavalo and their loyalty and love for each other; and, of course, SIRS, the crazy robot who plays a pivotal role in this installment of the story. Somehow this strange band of machine, animal and men latched on to a piece of my heart and kept me rooting for them to the very end. Then TJ Klune dealt his final, maniacal blow and hinted at potentially two more installments to the series.
The breadth and scope of this created world, the deeply flawed heroes that inhabit it, and the evil that streams from it like ants from their hill, all converge to make for a story that never stops delivering one surprise after another. It is a breathless, action-packed tale where life hangs in the balance, sanity is a sometimes friend, and even love is twisted and hard fought to achieve. Yet, each tiny victory allows hope to bloom and even though those triumphs are covered in loss and dance at the edge of the abyss, they still allow the reader a glimmer of happiness that some good might survive.
Crisped + Sere is a post-apocalyptic tour de force and a most worthy sequel in the Immemorial Year Series. It comes highly recommended to you. Suffice it to say I cannot wait for the next installment.
You can buy Crisped + Sere here: