Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon REVIEW

BOOK REVIEW Once more unto the breach

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In a fluke of cosmic timing, Tim Lebbon's alternate worlds epic comes swift on the heels of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's similarly themed The Long Earth . But while that book had warmth and wit and wonder, Lebbon's hefty tome has a far darker purpose. It's the end of the world, baby.

Somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains resides Coldbrook – a research facility where scientists have found a way to break down the walls of reality and look onto another Earth. No one has stepped through yet, with the breach carefully observed for signs of life. And then a man from the other side breaks through. Unfortunately, this dude doesn't come bearing gifts. The only thing he's bringing to the party is a nasty virus that turns people into ravening zombies . There's a battle, people die, and the virus breaks out, while one of the scientists gets trapped on the other side...

Lebbon's prose is cold, lean and ruthlessly efficient. That can make Coldbrook a bit of a slog, at times. Sure, the end of the world is never gonna be the funniest of situations, but it also means that it takes a while to warm to the characters.

Where the book excels is in the scenes on the parallel world. There's a dislocating sense of the uncanny here - the differences subtle, but powerful. It's here, and in the book's smaller, scarier moments, rather than the widescreen scenes of apocalyptic carnage, where Coldbrook finds its true power.

Will Salmon

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