In Eric S. Brown’s The Taint, David Zahner discovers that his dad was an agent for a secret Vatican organization called the Protectors. The remaining members of the group reach out to David when the dead rise up and begin to attack the living. The Protectors want David’s help—he has his dad’s bloodline, which means he can help against the overriding threat—the Great Old One, an elder god, who has awakened from his slumber to usher in the apocalypse. Meanwhile, Captain Trae commands the shakedown cruise of the USS Halton, a state-of-the-art battleship, unable to contact command. Finally, Barry Denman is fighting on the front line, defending a hardware store against the onslaught of the undead. The three plotlines are related, if only by outcome. Will Zahner be able to stop the threat before Barry and his coworkers succumb to the hungry dead?
Eric S. Brown has always understood the comic book connection to horror. The East Coast Comics tradition runs like a vein through the body of horror—carnage, irony and impending doom. It’s no mistake that Brown loves apocalyptic horror, with the attending chance to snuff the world in imaginative ways.
Lovecraftian Mythos and the undead make a perfect mashup. To say that the plot of The Taint is fast-paced would be a gross understatement. Brown’s prose is adrenaline-fueled. Like hydraulic power, forcing water through smaller and smaller conduits, Brown’s limited story lines (three, then two) thrust harder and harder, until the reader is forced, face-first, into a dark finish.
The Taint is a Dark Silo release, so of course we like it. And we love the monochrome paintings by Jack Larson that illustrate the tale. Larson’s art is a distilled nightmare—the perfect complement to a tale of the world’s end. (Five stars out of five)