SALES LINK: Cathedral (Amazon)
In the silence of a quiet apocalypse, there is Cathedral. It is a city like no other, sanctuary for the survivors of a terrible plague that has deafened the world. The walls protect the small community. Rituals and laws maintain order to prevent a return to chaos.
But Cathedral is a dangerous and complex place. For citizens like Sarah and newcomer Paul it can be either home or prison.
They just have to decide where their loyalties lie…
Oh holy sequel, Batman! You may have noticed that we never rate books (out of 5, for example) in our reviews here. This is because everyone’s idea of what a “good” rating is differs, and marking a story out of 5 just feels a bit too like a definitive judgment on whether a book is good or bad. Mostly, we think that’s sort of unfair (of us – no problem if others do it!), as most of the time whether something is good or not really comes down to subjective taste. We do give star ratings on goodreads and amazon because otherwise we have to just not give a star rating, and while that doesn’t drag a book’s average down, a lot of people consider 0 stars to be the worst of the worst, regardless of what the body of the review states.
Now, that being said, Cathedral is a 5/5 book. What a sequel, you guys! For clarity, this isn’t actually so much a sequel as another story within the universe of A Quiet Apocalypse, but it does feature many things mentioned in the first book, as well as the general set up and concept, obviously.
Cathedral is a place that was mentioned in the first book, and we find ourselves living within its messed up, sadistic walls in the second one. It has a fanatical religious energy that made me nervous, and the further I went into the story, the more nervous I became. It’s a place with a curfew, a place where the women pick a partner for ‘Mate Month’ (or is it Date Month?!), where monogamy is forbidden because it doesn’t serve the greater good, and where babies who are born deaf are…. discontinued. It’s a place where there are a multitude of punishable crimes, some of which carry the death penalty, although they call it “The Consequence”. Cathedral is a savage and primitive place that pretends it’s civilised.
By far, the most disturbing element of the story for me (which was mentioned in the first book but not really expanded on), is the attitude towards what are referred to as “harbingers”. Basically, a mutated strain of meningitus wiped out most of humanity, and rendered most of the survivors deaf. Those who were not afflicted are kept as prisoners/slaves, and used for their hearing. But even worse than that are the harbingers – the people who were already deaf before the virus struck. The people of Cathedral are convinced that the “harbingers” are somehow responsible for the virus, and blame them entirely for what happened to the world, and for the loss of their own hearing. Of course, there’s no real basis for this assumption, but what they do to these poor people in Cathedral is unfathomable.
Our protagonist is Sarah, a young woman who resides in this messed up community, and whole-heartedly appears to follow and believe in its rules and customs. Until one day, when she meets a man called Paul. Suddenly, certain rules seem archaic and unfair to her, and she thus embarks on a journey of self-discovery and re-discovery.
When I tell you I was tense reading this story, believe that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was scared for Sarah, but at the same time really willing her to have an epiphany and change, no matter the cost. I was suspicious of her friends, her co-workers. Once again, I had the strongest Gilead feeling ever as I read this. Nowhere seemed safe, no one seemed entirely trustworthy. Knowing the intolerance for insubordination made every risk Sarah took a literal life or death conundrum.
I don’t even know how many times I gasped out loud during the last chapter or two. I was annoying my partner, who kept looking up thinking something was seriously wrong. In fact, to prove it to you, here are some pictures of my notes during this trying time…
Once again, Jeffery delivers an ending that is shocking, unexpected, emotionally evocative, and overall an absolute thrill to read. Seriously, this author not only knows how to end a story, but he also left me in a state of shock and awe.
You can probably read this one if you haven’t read the first one, but I highly recommend both and reading them in order. The world-building is wonderful and it’s so much fun already piecing together a complete vision of life after the virus (and I’m only two books in – I CAN’T WAIT to read the next two!). At less than £7 per paperback, and about £2.50 on Kindle (or you can read them for absolutely nothing right now if you have Kindle Unlimited), I think they’re a bargain. I’ll pop the links for both below:
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