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Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a prolific, long-time author of various horror, fantasy, and sci-fi novels and is best known for her Saint-Germain series. False Dawn is one of her many stand-alone science-fiction novels.
Set near the beginning of a post-apocalyptic 21st century in northern California, the novel opens immediately onto our heroine named Thea, who is running from a band of vagrant men known as "Pirates" - a league of highly violent and dangerous men on a mission to kill all remaining mutants in the region. Thea - a mutant woman in her 20s - is intent on traveling by foot eastward to a place known as Gold Lake, a place not unlike Eden and rumored to provide safe refuge to all mutants from the Pirates.
Along the way, Thea encounters and saves a man named Evan Montague, soon learning that Evan had once led the Pirates, but is now their most hated enemy. Now running from the Pirates together, Thea and Evan embark on the journey eastward to Gold Lake while establishing a trusting relationship along the way. After getting to know one another and making a series of sacrifices to keep the other alive, Thea and Evan forge an unlikely bond that sees them through their very scary and treacherous journey.
False Dawn will have horror and science-fiction fans alike engrossed by the end of page 1, which describes Thea watching a bruised and battered mutant woman hanging from a billboard seconds away from being ravaged by rabid and hungry dogs. The fast-paced novel then leads us through a series of action-packed, horrifying events that are described in such grisly detail and don't leave much to the imagination.
For such a short novel (just slightly over 200 pages), False Dawn really gives readers a strong, vivid picture of Thea and Evan's world and makes you ache right along with them for better times past. The relationship that develops between Thea and Evan is respectable and sweet without being too obvious, and is not over-the-limit sappy or ridiculous given the state of the world they live in.
False Dawn's ending is quite abrupt and may leave you feel cheated - especially since it appears Thea and Evan's journey is not quite over in regards to the search for indefinite peace. Is the book memorable? Yes indeed, and first-time readers of Yarbro's work (such as myself) will clamber for more titles by this very esteemed and seemingly underrated author. I'm actually a little miffed that I haven't been able to find many reviews by book bloggers raving about Yarbro. Guess I'll have to start a new trend!
False Dawn will highly appeal to all fans of horror and science-fiction. Remember the movie Cyborg with Jean-Claude Van Damme (1989)? This novel reminded me very much of that very movie! I loved my experience with False Dawn, and was glad to have read it when I did.
I DEFINITELY plan on reading as many of Yarbro's books as I can, beginning with the 1st book of the Saint-Germain series entitled Hotel Transylvania (1978). Books 2 and 3 in the Saint-German series are The Palace (1978) and Blood Games (1980) respectively, and Yarbro's newest release from the series will be book 25 entitled Commedia Della Morte, scheduled to release in March 2012.
Click on the pictures of the books below to review them in more detail on Amazon.com.
What are your favorite Chelsea Quinn Yarbro books? Have you recently read any post-apocalyptic books that you enjoyed, and if so, what are their titles?