The Samaritan (A Quiet Apocalypse: Book 3) – by Dave Jeffery – Book Review



The disease known as MNG-U has staked its claim on humanity and ended the world. Those who survive have been robbed of their hearing, deafened in this quiet apocalypse. But in the city of Cathedral, they have found sanctuary.

Inside the walls, the meager populace relies on harsh governance to keep them safe. Outside the walls they depend on Samaritans, search teams who scour the Wilderness for both resource and threat. Bound by an oath to maintain and defend their city, Samaritans are the line separating Cathedral from disorder and ruin, a mandate they pursue ruthlessly and without question.

Until now.

On a routine recon, one Samaritan will find himself injured and alone and in desperate need of guidance. Where loyalties between the oath made to his beloved city will clash with promises from his past. Now he must question everything he knows, including his own purpose.

Because, lost in the Wilderness, redemption is about to become the only way to stay alive.

In this third instalment of the ‘A Quiet Apocalypse’ series, we’re with Nathan, a Samaritan from Cathedral. In case you haven’t read my previous reviews – Cathedral is a place run by and full of people who adhere to harsh rules, and blame Harbingers (those who were already deaf before the disease struck) for the state of the world. Samaritans are the worst of the people of Cathedral, on account of the fact that when they go outside to eliminate threats, the “threats” in question include Harbingers. They hunt them.

Nathan, while out with a team, ends up badly injured and taken in by some strangers who are the very opposite of all of his beliefs and ideals. And thus, he finds himself in a precarious and delicate situation in which self-reflection and control is crucial to his survival.

The story-telling is mostly linear but we do jump backwards into Nathan’s memories sometimes, which gave our protagonist a lot of extra depth, plus it reiterated how very different the world now is (the people, however, not so much when you really think about it). We’re treated with flashes of memory about the dearly departed love of Nathan’s life, James, and also some less pleasant people, like Nathan’s father.

One of the first things I noticed was that, being in Nathan’s POV, I sort of forgot that he’s a heinous excuse for a human (he is a Samaritan, after all). I also liked his team, with the exception of Snelson. Even by Cathedral’s standards, this Snelson character is a bit of an extremist. I was very concerned for Nathan, Jasmine, and Richard and was idly following their journey, worried about them, when I suddenly remembered who they actually are. This is the wonderful thing about Jeffery’s characters – they’re human. Flawed (or downright dastardly), but with layers and perspectives and feelings. When you empathise with someone, as I did because of the knowledge that he had to watch his beloved James die, it’s harder to hate them. I think instead I pitied him, and hoped he’d find his way out of the indoctrination of Cathedral. And also, I ….. liked him. Dark Lord save me, but it’s true!

It’s really difficult to discuss anything about the plot without spoiling revelations as they happen – big and small. Instead I’d like to discuss the themes that Jeffery so excellently explores here.

Trauma and the kind of person it can turn you into is at the forefront. All too often I read depictions where the traumatised person is a sub-human, evil stereotype. Or perhaps they’re not a bad person, but they’re incredibly timid, weak, and easily manipulated. While I’m sure that there are real-life characters like this, I find the trope a little tired and lazy when it’s used in story-telling. Where’s the depth, the nuance, hell – the reality? Where are those seemingly small details that heavily inform a person’s current attitudes and fears?

For example. how many times have you read/seen a story where someone was attacked by a dog in their childhood, and grew up petrified of dogs? It’s one of the main things about the character, it’s made known to you, it comes up in small examples and then probably later in some enormous one where the protagonist has to conquer the fear to save a baby or something. Or perhaps I just notice this more because of my own experience.

When I was between the ages of 1 and 2, I was attacked by the next door neighbour’s dog, and severly injured. I’m talking over 40 stitches in my face, broken jaw, and reconstructive surgery. People often don’t believe me when I say this (and fair enough, because apparently we don’t retain memories from this age), but I remember it happening. I went looking for the dog, found it behind the sofa, approached it while it stared up and growled at me – then there’s a gap in my memory – and then I’m lying on my back and it’s standing on me. Sounds pretty traumatic, right? Weirdly enough, I have never, not once, felt emotional whilst recounting this. It’s like telling someone I went to the shop. Even weirder, I am not and have never been afraid of dogs. I’ve been adamant almost my whole life that this incident had no effect on me. However, something I’ve only recently come to realise is that, well yes, it did. Having zero emotional response to something that shocking and physically devastating could be, in itself, a trauma response. While I like dogs and am happy to walk and pet them, I would absolutely never own one and the main reason is because I plan to have children and I’d never be able to relax with a dog in the house. You know, because kids are unpredictable, and even nice dogs can be startled by, let’s say, a kid following them behind a sofa and backing them into a corner. I also get irrationally angry if someone tries to hand me a hamster or something, or comes near me with a pet, because my knee-jerk response is to assume it’s going to bite me. On my face. My face healed really well, but I can never get eyeliner to match because the skin around one eye sits differently to the other, because of scar tissue I suppose. Also, to this day, at random when I’m chewing, sometimes I’m struck with absolutely blinding jaw pain.

I mention this not to unload a mental burden (or maybe I am – the horror community is without a doubt the most understanding and supportive group of people I have ever known!), but to make a point that trauma does not automatically equal “panicked aversion to thing that caused trauma”. It’s more nuanced than that, and there are other smaller details, like never being able to achieve the perfect wing liner on my left eye, that inform my appearance and character.

Jeffery, I’m convinced, is a master at working details like this into his characters – not only because he has an observed general understanding of how people react to certain things, but because he has an extraordinary amount of empathy. Jeffery gives us a protagonist who, by their very profession, must be morally bankrupt. Then he almost immediately tells you that this guy has suffered, and since suffering seems to be the universal language of humans, you warm to him. Maybe he’s not terrible, maybe he’s just damaged and trying to cope. Maybe he can be redeemed. Then Jeffery has him injured, and since this is such a relatable experience, we’re wrapped in another layer of sympathy for the guy. Strangers take him in when he’s vulnerable and cannot defend himself, and this is a world in which the most dangerous thing is strangers. Then we get some back story of him as a boy, vulnerable and at the mercy of his horrible father (and even with this atrocity of a man, Jeffery works in some pain and humanity). So despite these particular strangers clearly being lovely, we understand why our protagonist is so guarded.

‘The Samaritan’ delves into the effects of abuse, grief, serious injury, violence, conditioning, indoctrination, prejudice, and fear with an attention to detail and a deep understanding that rivals half of the best writing out there, and blows the other half out of the water completely. And what’s more – despite the heavy themes and the oppressive atmosphere of the series, it’s still a blast to read! I do not know how Jeffery has woven such a fun and exciting tale out of the dark abyss of the very worst human thought processes, but he has, and he’s done it with top-tier writing and a narrative flair worthy of making the rest of us jealous.

Oh, and once again, absolutely outstanding ending.

If I were to place Dave Jeffery’s work in a bookshop, he’d be on a shelf with Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, and Adam Nevill.

It probably goes without saying that I highly recommend this glorious book, and its predecessors. Again, I don’t think it’s essential to read the previous two to understand this one as the main points are covered, but I advise it anyway just for the pure love of reading them. With each book, you get a deeper look into the world, and a more complete story. I’ll pop the links for all three below.

A QUIET APOCALYPSE (£6.14 papeback, £2.51 Kindle, £0 Kindle Unlimited)

CATHEDRAL (£6.15 paperback, £2.51 Kindle, £0 Kindle Unlimited)

THE SAMARITAN (£7.29 paperback, £2.51 Kindle, £0 Kindle Unlimited)

One response to “The Samaritan (A Quiet Apocalypse: Book 3) – by Dave Jeffery – Book Review”

  1. Lollll Love that Ron meme!

    Liked by 1 person

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