Brand provides a dark tale about a war veteran in this debut sci-fi thriller.
Capt. Alan Wickey is having a bad enough time to begin with. He’s come home from Afghanistan, where he served in the Canadian army. But he hasn’t been able to shake off everything he endured there, no matter how far removed his Vancouver family life is from the danger-filled market squares and unavoidable roadside bombs he still sees in his memory. Sadly, his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, brain injury, and guilt have all but driven his wife, Karen, and son, Teddy, away from him entirely. Alan fights a losing battle with his own mind and vices—and that’s before things get really strange. While in the middle of a particularly foolish, drunken mistake at the edge of Vancouver’s lush wilderness, he’s attacked by something unimaginable and left for dead. He barely survives the run-in with Sentrous, a hunter and part of a tribe of missing link–like creatures who’ve lived out of humanity’s sight for millennia, preying on those least likely to be missed. But just as with his wartime trauma, Alan cannot simply accept his own survival and move on. Instead, he feels driven by the threat, or the challenge. He rallies what troops he can, in the form of the war buddies who, unlike everyone else, believe his story and are willing to pursue peace through superior firepower. Alan, however, doesn’t realize just what going back to war will jeopardize, as the cycle of violence and response puts the people he cares most about at risk and threatens to become a disaster bigger than anyone is prepared for. “When two competing species are both subjected to extreme environmental pressure, a few things can happen.” This line opens the intriguing story proper and speaks to the adventures and complications to come, as the plot ranges from a cat-and-mouse game to a desperate fight for survival. Not only that, but the complex novel blends genres as well, mixing war stories (both during and post-combat) and sci-fi action. Along with a fast pace, dynamic characters, and engaging writing, it’s a very compelling mix.
A work of surprising depth even as it delivers the powerful chills and thrills readers expect from a battle with formidable creatures.