The Silent Years: Mother by Jennifer R. Povey

The Silent Years: Mother by Jennifer R. Povey
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (63 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Dorothy Mayling thought her worst problem was the long-standing family feud over her sister’s choice of husband. Or her sons’ grades. Then the rumors started – bird flu in Seattle, SARS in Washington State? The truth is a hideous, terrible disease, one that slowly steals away the ability to speak and reason, turning people into nothing more than zombies. Worst of all, it was meant to be a weapon. Can Dorothy hold her family together as the world ends around them and people fall, one by one, to the silent plague?

The only thing scarier than a deadly pandemic is how people react to it.

Dorothy’s character development was strong. She is a deeply flawed woman whose prejudices and pessimistic attitude often made it difficult for me to like her. What kept me interested in her were the glimpses of her compassionate side that occasionally snuck through her prickly exterior. These moments made me anticipate the sequel. I’m looking forward to spending more time inside of Dorothy’s mind!

It would have been helpful to have a three-dimensional understanding of the other characters as well. While I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone in a short story to reveal their rich inner lives, there was room for more information about what Dorothy’s companions were thinking and feeling as everything around them fell apart. There were times when their flat personas made it hard for me to be invested in what happened to anyone other than Dorothy.

Some people would do the right thing regardless of what was happening around them. Others need the rules and structure that society provides in order to make good decisions. The most memorable parts of this tale for me involved how these two groups are sorted out. It’s easy to romanticize what life would be like in a culture that has completely broken down, but the reality of it is usually much grimmer. Sometimes this genre overlooks that, so it was refreshing to read something that takes a more realistic approach to what happens to the most vulnerable members of a society in a crisis.

Anyone who likes apocalyptic fiction should give The Silent Years: Mother a try.

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