Congeal by John F. Leonard
Reviewed by Morgan K. Tanner
There are many post-apocalyptic books out there. Many are much of the same just with different characters, settings, and particulars about the actual ending of life as we know it. Zombies pollute most of them as hardened humans battle the undead in a world that no longer resembles home.
But here, the enemy is something that is difficult to picture, yet beautifully and grotesquely described. The destroyer of the world is some kind of sentient ooze/liquid/slime shit. With tentacles. It comes from underground and desecrates anything in its path.
Yes, the ‘beast’ is so Lovecraft, but the story is anything but. Amelia, a woman who’s lost everything, bands together with others in her situation to try and survive the horrors of this ‘thing’. Nothing is safe in the world; if it’s alive, it’s lunch!
The way this monstrous entity is portrayed is awesomely done, some of the language used had me nodding along in appreciation of the sentences.
So now on to the name of this other-worldly life-ender; The Clag. I’d seen this mentioned in some promotional posts etc, and couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed at the title of the horrifically cosmic antagonist. It sounded like something you’d cough up during a heavy cold. But what Leonard does brilliantly here is share the ridiculousness of the name with the reader. The Clag was named by the media when the outbreak began, and as the story continues, the name becomes less comedic and certainly more sinister.
Now I shudder when I see it written.The Clag. (I’m shuddering now).
The majority of the story is told as a backstory; the beginning of this apocalypse, Amelia’s journey to this point, and the meeting of the survivors. There’s no real plot twists or red herrings thrown in, but that doesn’t matter. Once the ooze has trapped you, its unnervingly sinister destruction of mankind is enough to keep you gripped.
I must also mention the term ‘aphotic realm’ making a cameo. Nicely done!
This book is one short, shocking and terrifying read. I’d also say it is a piece that needs to be ‘experienced’ and not just read. Mr Leonard truly is a man on form!
You can take my word for it or you can check it out for yourself as it’s Available Now.
About Morgan K. Tanner
Morgan K Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The idyllic surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum, and hide the bodies. The busy sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the antiquated torture equipment.
When he’s not writing or inflicting pain and suffering on his numerous victims, he indulges himself in all things horror and metal.
His debut novella, An Army of Skin is available now.