Friday, October 28, 2016

The After War VBT

Two years have passed since mankind faced extinction. Brian Rhodes and his cousin, Steven, are leaving the protection of their underground bunker for the first time, after a cataclysmic war and unrelenting disease ravaged the earth.

On the other side of the North American continent, young Simon Kalispell is leaving the safety and seclusion of his cabin deep in the woods, traveling with his aging canine companion, Winston.

For individual reasons, these men are traveling east, where the fragmented lives of a small number of survivors will soon be decided by the choices of a corrupt few.

Simon Kalispell and Brian Rhodes are not yet aware, but the strength that resides inside them will soon be tested, and destiny will call for their fates to be forever intertwined.

Brian looked down the entry chute to Steven at the bottom. He knew that five minutes ago, the only thought going through Steven’s mind had been the complete and utter fear of facing whatever unknown nature of humanity might remain outside that bunker door. Now his cousin looked panicked as the filtered light reflected the sheen of sweat on his forehead, his body tensed, as if the all-encompassing blackness in that room was squeezing him toward the exit. Steven’s eyes darted over his shoulder in the direction of the one piece of equipment they had not shut down entirely—the walk-in freezer. The red, glowing light from the switch illuminated the far wall. Steven seemed frozen, transfixed.

Not the time to be thinking about what’s in there, Brian thought.

Villains in fiction

When we think of the evil, monstrous villains in fiction, the characters our minds produce are often Dracula, Frankenstein, Moriarity, or even Satan himself from Paradise Lost. But villains can have many faces, from the supernatural worlds of Stephen King, to the more human side of atrocity, such as Cormac McCarthy’s portrayal of the assassin, Anton Chigurh (see number 5). Below, I have compiled a list of ten of my favorite villains in fiction. I attempted to call upon a conglomerate of genres, not wanting to fill the list with only supernatural and horror related names. Without further introduction, here are my top-ten favorite evil villains in fiction.

10: Tyler Durden, FIGHT CLUB, Chuck Palahniuk
After starting a cult-like organization called Project Mayhem, Tyler Durden begins to wage war against the consumer driven nation. Arguably, Tyler Durden is a domestic terrorist. By the end of the novel, the narrator begins having doubts about Tyler and Project Mayhem as their exploits become increasingly destructive, and in the end, well … you’re just going to have to read the book to find out Tyler Durden’s true identity.

9: Waleran Bigod, THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH, Ken Follett
Waleran Bigod uses cunning and manipulation to further his own corrupt pursuit of power, while hiding under the guise of religion, as he became the Bishop of Kingsbridge. The man is described as emotionless, arrogant, and spider like in appearance, always wearing black robes. Waleran is perhaps the worst type of evil, being that his position in life is to help people in need, yet he employs his power to corrupt and murder.

8: Frank Cauldhame, THE WASP FACTORY, Iain Banks
There is so much wrong with Frank Cauldhame, and the whole Cauldhame family, that summing it up in one short paragraph is difficult. Frank, the sixteen-year-old narrator, lives on a remote beach in Scotland with his something of a mad scientist father. Frank is the self-proclaimed lord of his peninsula, and performs strange and gruesome ritualistic sacrifices of animals, keeping their heads on poles around the property. But he doesn’t stop at animals. I will let the book’s description speak for itself, “Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim. That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again. It was just a stage I was going through.” This book is extremely disturbing, and incredibly well written.

7: Frederick Clegg, THE COLLECTOR, John Fowles
After winning a lottery and purchasing a lovely home out in the countryside, what does Frederick Glegg do with his time? Why, he collects butterflies, and then he kidnaps the lovely Miranda Grey, a girl he had been obsessed with, and locks her away in a basement room he had made ‘comfortable’ for her before her abduction. Instead of what you might expect from the situation, such as anything of a sexual nature, Frederick instead showers her with gifts and admiration, hoping that she would in turn grow to love him. The most terrifying aspect of this book has been the real world implications. Dozens of serial killers, rapists, and murderers, have claimed this book as their justification and inspiration. Many were found to have this book in their libraries, or persons, such as the serial killer, Christopher Wilder. The murderous duo, Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, had named their plot to document and kill over twenty-five individuals ‘Operation Miranda.’

6: Asad Khalil ‘The Lion,’ THE LIONS GAME, THE LION, Nelson DeMille
The character, belonging to DeMille’s Detective John Corey series, is a ruthless terrorist with an unclenching bloodlust. John Corey tracks the terrorist over the course of two novels as Asad goes on a killing spree, beheading some of his victims, all in the name of God.

5: Anton Chigurh, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, Cormac McCarthy
A heartless assassin. An unstoppable evil. The man is devoid of compassion, and relies on a captive bolt pistol—or cattle gun—to kill many of his victims. Anton displays such a lack of emotion when dealing with death, such as flipping a coin to decide a victim’s fate, that the character can be seen as death personified. His goal is to see his job through, and never falter until the task is complete, regardless of the circumstance.

4: Patrick Bateman, AMERICAN PSYCHO, Brett Easton Ellis
The depth of Patrick Bateman’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with his materialistic, greedy nature, is enough to put the Wall Street investor on the spectrum of insanity. But when you add that he’s a raging serial killer, well, that nudges him over the edge from insanity to pure evil. Patrick Batman kills indiscriminately, from women, to men, to children, to animals; and he commits crimes ranging from rape to cannibalism. What makes him all the more terrible, is that his own insanity makes it impossible to decipher who he has actually killed and who might have been a figment of his imagination.

3: Randall Flagg, THE STAND + 9 ADDITIONAL NOVELS, Stephen King
The only supernatural character on the list. Randall Flagg is pure evil. In Stephen King’s own words, Randall Flagg is “an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark.” His outward appearance is that of an attractive, charismatic individual, smiling and laughing often, yet his ultimate goal is to see society crumble. In King’s epic novel, The Stand, Flagg depicts all that is bad in this world, standing in opposition to Mother Abigail, who personifies all that is good.

Even if you haven’t read any of Thomas Harris’s novels, or seen any of the blockbuster movies made from the books, chances are you still know who Hannibal Lecter is. The brilliant, cultured doctor is so fierce, yet calm and level headed in his bloodlust, that it makes the man almost supernatural. He appears to have abilities superior to the common individual, largely based on his intellect and his stunning sense of smell and taste, as if everything he does is on a level of pleasure that the rest of us do not have the ability to experience. After being imprisoned, he dares a dramatic and gruesome escape, and continues on his journey of indulgence of the worst kind. Thomas Harris set out to invent a serial killer more evil than anyone in existence or fiction, and boy did he succeed. Hannibal Lecter could easily hold first place on this list, if it weren’t for ...

1: Judge Holden, BLOOD MERIDIAN, Cormac McCarthy
What puts the Judge on the top of the list is that the man is purportedly a non-fictional character. He was mentioned in Samuel Chamberlain’s autobiography, My Confession, although there is little evidence to suggest his life otherwise. His depiction in Blood Meridian is so enticing that many scholars have been trying to bring Holden’s existence further into light. The Judge is partnered with John Joel Glanton, leading a gang of nomadic killers between Mexico and Texas throughout the 1840s’. Employed as scalp hunters, the gang robs, kills, rapes, and scalps everyone and anyone who comes before them. The Judge is described as possibly the most ruthless of these miscreants, and it is hinted that the man engages in pedophilia before killing his victims after the vile acts. What tops him off as number one on the list is not just his villainous characteristics, it is the sheer poetic beauty of his speech and amazing intelligence, personified by McCarthy’s brilliant writing.

In the end, there are so many great villains in fiction that putting them all on one list is near impossible to do. So, I ask you this: who is your favorite evil character? Who gives you shivers when reading their tales late at night?

My Review:
4 stars

This story was gritty, heartbreaking, and hard to put down. I will warn you, this is not a nice book. The entire book is a fight for survival. S*** happens, characters die, and you will get your heart broken. While it’s nowhere near as bad as Game of Thrones, it is closer to The Walking Dead and is brutal at times. However, if you are a dystopian fan who likes realistic storytelling, this is for you.

Everything in the book was very detailed. The characters were well-written and dynamic, and I personally found myself getting very attached to Simon. Even the secondary characters were fleshed out, not flat, stereotypical dystopian villains. I was really able to see and feel what these characters were going through, which made it a hard read at times, but so worth it.

The plot was also really well written and interesting. A large part of the story focused on the journey the characters went through after living in hiding for so long and then switched to focus on them surviving the remnants of humanity, so the level of vivid details that the author put into this story really helped pull it together and set a tense, gritty mood. While this also made it a slower read at times and could have used a bit more editing, overall it helped pull me into the story and this world and really get me into the right mindset for a dystopian novel.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Author Bio and Links:
Brandon Zenner is an American fiction writer and an Amazon best selling author. His short fiction has been published in both print and online publications, the first being submitted when he was 19 years old. THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS, his debut eBook thriller, has reached Amazon's best seller list many times. His second novel, WHISKEY DEVILS, was released in early 2016. THE AFTER WAR, a dystopian thriller, is available now as a pre-order, at 80% off the final sale price. 

You can follow the author on his Amazon page, or through his email list on his website. All email subscribers will receive his futuristic short story, HELIX ILLUMINATED, for free as a thank you. His genres of choice are thrillers, crime, dystopian, and science fiction.

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The After War will be $0.99 during the tour.


  1. Hi,

    Thanks for hosting, and for the review.

  2. great ex writer and thank you for have a giveaway too :)

    1. sorry I meant great excerpt lol stupid phone

    2. Ha! No priblem, glad you liked the excerpt.

  3. Congrats on the tour, the book looks, great, and thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you! The tour has been fun. Good luck with the raffle.