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Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay | Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

52166666. SY475  - Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay | ReviewSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay
Published by titan Books on July 7, 2020
ISBN: 9780062679185
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Supernatural, Horror
Pages: 320
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
five stars - Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay | Review

“Fresh and surprising. Survivor Song may be one of Tremblay’s best— beautifully detailed, viscerally frightening, and deep with emotional resonance."  —Dan Chaon, New York Times bestselling author of Ill Will
A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.
In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government's emergency protocols are faltering.
Dr. Ramola "Rams" Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie's husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie's only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.
Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 
Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages . . . and shake them to their core.

Well hold the mother-fucking door!  Allow me to go on record and declare that there will never be a better time to read Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song than 2020, and I managed it by the arse of my pants!  Tremblay is a decorated horror novelist that I am ashamed to say have never read, until now.  The guy has a huge responsibility on his shoulders, but he is still swimming, still telling stories that stay with the reader.  This story is going to be one that I will remember and hold in regard to the year 2020. 

I’m waffling (not unlike the victims of the super rabies that have taken hold). 

Let’s play the Survivor Song.  Can you remember where you were when you heard a particular song?  Where were you when you read Survivor Song?  In a cruel twist of fate, I was in lockdown.  I’m one of these twisted individuals that just love reading about pandemics IN a pandemic.  So, lock those damn doors, have a weapon close by and never, ever, leave a door open. 

A grieving wife, pregnant with their first child.  A shock virus is spreading within Massachusetts.  A strong, super contagious mega-rabies is spreading from animals to humans.  Its contracted by saliva and as a result the entire state goes into lockdown (sound familiar?)  The hospitals can’t cope, the emergency services are overrun, and no residents can leave the state.  Dr Ramola Sherman, a paediatrician is being drafted in as second tier support and no-one is more shocked than her at how quickly things have gotten out of control.  However, a plea for help from her best friend, Natalie turns both their worlds upside down.  Natalie’s husband has been killed by an infected neighbour and she has sustained a bite that could be infected with the mutant rabies.   

Survivor Song is a tale of love and hope, believe it or not.  Natalie is a deep character that is dealing with hope, loss, and fear.  She is a strong and capable character but in her vulnerability is where you see her immovable need to put someone else first, her unborn baby.  The virus trope is a an old one, but Tremblay does more than rehash an old script.  He examines the fear and the mental strain pandemics place upon the human psyche.  The vulnerability etches a bullseye for everyone to see and just how that world reacts to it was just perfection.  Natalie’s struggle was hard to read, I was mesmerised by her plight and Tremblay has played a blinder with this one. 

Dr Ramona and Natalie are against the clock.  Natalie needs immediate medical care and Ramona believes she has the sway needed to get her it.  The way Tremblay wrote an incredibly fractious situation through a potentially infected character was so spot on, I was floored.  You could feel the fear and love for her unborn child.  We seek something when our worlds are falling apart…a connection, help, understanding. 

Releasing this book at this moment in time?  Mind-blowing!

Survivor Song at the hands of a deft magician delivered pain and anguish whilst in freefall.  A cautionary tale about the things that could just be around the corner. 


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Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the author of The Cabin at the End of the World, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland, and the short story collection, Growing Things and Other Stories.

He is currently a member of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly online, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. He has a master’s degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his family.


five stars - Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay | Review


  • Ollie

    I keep seeing this pop up in my recommendations, and your review has made me want to read it even more! I’m still tempted to start with another of his, A Head Full of Ghosts (because opening a book with a Bad Religion line is a surefire way to reel me in) but this definitely sounds like one to check out soon!

  • Tammy

    I have a copy of this I need to read, and I’m more excited than ever after reading your review. I’m a fan of pandemic books during the pandemic too😁

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