By Paul Tremblay
(320 pages, horror, 2020)
Massachusetts has been overrun by a mutated rabies pandemic. The disease is spreading rapidly, and the infected are driven to bite other people. The word zombie is being whispered online. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold.
Dr. Ramola Sherman receives a frantic phone call from her best friend Natalie, eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed – attacked by an infected neighbor – and in the attempt to save him, Natalie 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.
This book is not going to appeal to everyone. The description of pandemic activities – standing in line at the grocery store, frantically wondering who is at the door, and trying to stay hidden from other people – are familiar from hundreds of books but also from the too-recent past. Survivor Song may strike a little too close to home. But as a horror novel (and an exploration of how things could have gone in another universe) it’s tight, claustrophobic, well-written, compelling and heartbreaking.