Friday, 29 April 2016

Book Review: Thunder and Ashes by ZA Recht (Morningstar Strain #2)

A lot can change in three months: wars can be decided, nations can be forged... or entire species can be brought to the brink of annihilation. The Morningstar Virus, an incredibly virulent disease, has swept the face of the planet, infecting billions. Its hosts rampage, attacking anything that remains uninfected. Even death can't stop the virus-its victims as cannibalistic shamblers.

Scattered across the world, embattled groups have persevered. For some, surviving is the pinnacle of achievement. Others hoard goods and weapons. And still others leverage power over the remnants of humanity in the form of a mysterious cure for Morningstar. Francis Sherman and Anna Demilio want only a vaccine, but to find it, they must cross a countryside in ruins, dodging not only the infected, but also the lawless living.

The bulk of the storm has passed over the world, leaving echoing thunder and softly drifting ashes. But for the survivors, the peril remains, and the search for a cure is just beginning...

My Review: 
The first thing I need to say before getting into the review is that it will have spoilers to a few things that happen in book one, so if you read this and haven't read book one, it will spoil the story for you! As this is one of my favourite zombie series EVER I urge you to read the books before my reviews if you love zombie action! OK now strap yourself in and lets get into this review.

It picks up exactly where the first one cuts off. Sherman's group get back on the road after the disaster at Hyattsburg and decide to stop at an airport. Mark Styles, bitten on the supply run in town, hides in a comic book store to wait for the end. Anna's group realise that Sawyer knows where they plan to go and is stalking them, ready to ambush them at any moment. Those remaining on the USS Ramage decide to abandon ship and follow the route they think Sherman took, hoping to catch up to them on the road. With everyone now on American soil, they have to be aware of rampaging zombies, unfriendly locals and dangerous bandits.

This book moves at breakneck speed, following three main groups-Sherman, Harris and Anna. The story switches between the three as they all head towards the secure facility, and the tension is pretty much non stop. The action scenes again are brilliantly written, leaving you anxious about your favourite characters. There are zombie attacks, corrupt psycho agents, rescue raids, bandit attacks, and survivors trying to rebuild communities in protected towns. It is not just about the action and zombie gore, it is about groups of people trying to stay alive and remain people, not monsters.

Character wise, I loved the introduction of the community at Abraham, who agree to help Sherman's team repair vehicles damaged by the bandits, if the military men will help to rescue the women that the bandits took hostage. This leads to a whole new danger, not just in the actual raid, but the war that will start between Abraham and the bandits. Anna's group discover that Sawyer has gone rogue and wants to capture Anna because he believes that she already has a cure and he wants it. Her group have to deal with repeated attempts on their lives by Sawyer and his allies, while Sherman is dealing with a full scale combined bandit and zombie attack on the town. There is certainly never a dull moment in this sequel! Harris and his men have to run the gauntlet in Hyattsburg as they correctly guess that Sherman has gone this way and get a few surprises there.

Harris realises that they may have the key to a cure if they can get to the facility safely and they have no way of contacting Anna or Sherman for help or to tell them of their discovery. Sawyer has sent people ahead to the facility to lay a trap for Anna. Anna and Sherman are both en route to the facility...and things are getting very exciting! I'm not going to go into details of the plot or who survives and dies but each time I read this series, I am still caught up in the story even when I know what will happen. It was so good to read and so well written.

It was sad that the author died after completion of this book, at the age of 26, which was tragic on an epic scale for his loved ones. These were his first two books and we can only imagine all the wonderful stories that he had planned for a future that sadly he never got to see. His publisher and author Thom Brannan, agreed to use his notes to complete the trilogy which was a fitting tribute. I can tell you that the third novel does not disappoint and will be reviewed by me shortly.

Zombie fans really need to treat themselves to this brilliant series!
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg


  1. I am glad to see this is consistently good and hasn't suffered from second book syndrome where it is awful.

    1. In some ways I liked this book better than the first, in some ways the first wins! So I guess I'd just say both are brilliant!