Admittedly, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this title. Not because it came from a previously unheard-of writer, because that’s one of the thrills of reading, but because it deals with a pandemic; more specifically, the current pandemic. Reading about a pandemic, whilst experiencing one? I wasn’t entirely sure how this would go down.
Obviously, being a piece of fiction there are a lot of differences to what we’ve been living through this past year, but there are also enough similarities to make the story relatable in one way or another.
That reservation of mine turned out to be one of its greatest strengths. It’s all well and good to read about a zombie outbreak in New York or something like that, but having never visited the city, nor having faced down a zombie horde, a story along those lines sits squarely in the part of the brain that knows full well, that what I am reading, is nothing more than a flight of fancy.
The thing makes The Blood Beast Mutations immediately relatable, (there’s that word again) is the fact that it touches on matters that we’ve probably all experienced. Whether it’s the boredom and isolation from being stuck at home, the fear of having a loved one hospitalized, or just frustration at the incompetence of certain bumbling world leaders; there is something here that will most-likely resonate.
Obviously, being a horror title, the story strays from reality, as it should, with those few opening chapters setting the scene nicely. They have enough recognisable moments that readers will instantly feel a certain kinship to characters and events.
So, what makes The Blood Beast Mutations different from your typical covid (or other viruses) related stories?
Despite initially starting with the same symptoms, there are rumours, along with the odd video posted on-line, about people becoming monsters. Not in the zombie sense, but more in a virus-mutating-into -a-bipedal-lifeform-and-tearing-its-way-from-the-host, sense. Yup, the virus has taken on a humanoid shape that tears it way out of its host, and then goes on a clawing and feasting rampage.
In the middle of this are Dan, and his wife, Cassie. They’d seen the videos, but as with most other people, had dismissed them as fake. I mean, even the president is claiming they are "fake news," so there’s no way it’s real. Right? A world leader wouldn’t lie…
Unfortunately, Cassie falls ill and winds up in a hospital, and then, not long after, Dan receives a panicked phone call from her, pleading for him to go and get her. In an attempt to get to the hospital, he has to dodge his way past the droves of confused and scared humanity, including flag-wavers chanting "USA, USA, USA," whilst firing guns every-which-way. He also finds out first-hand that the stories about the virus were true. It has mutated, and, it is alive, aware, and more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.
The Blood Beast Mutations is a highly entertaining story. It starts somewhere recognisable, and then slowly adds fear, then horror into the narrative. It’s a fast-paced read, that doesn’t sacrifice story for thrills, and I was rooting for Dan, (and Amelia) every step of the way.
Author Carl John Lee states that the story came from "a place of anger," but fortunately, the book doesn’t feel like an angry tirade. More of a resigned acceptance mixed with disappointment, at the stupidity of humanity. We may have the ability to overcome or fix most problems we encounter as a species, but there is no cure for stupidity and ignorance.
Even though Carl's view on the situation is plain to see, the tale doesn’t feel preachy either, at least, to me, it didn’t. That may have been because I found myself in agreement with lead character Dan, so I simply sat cheering him on, as I read through the story.
If I had to pick a fault, it would be that the story ended a little too abruptly for my liking. Then again, all good things must come to an end, and my disappointment mainly stems from wanting to spend more time with these characters, and even, in the world that Carl has created. There were occurrences at the end, and things alluded to, that I would have liked to read more about, but other than that, I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Blood Beast Mutations, is a fantastic read, that I highly recommend. Carl John Lee has taken something that we can all relate too and weaved it into a compelling narrative.
In fact, even though I got the ebook for free, I think that I'm going to grab myself a copy of the paperback too.
You can find it on Amazon kindle in the UK
And in the US you can find the ebook here