This Plague of Days by Robert Chazz Chute

Told over three seasons, This Plague of Days comes at the apocalypse with a certain spiritualism, if the deity controlling existence were disembodied programmers, and we were the algorithms generated to play their games.

Autistic teenager Jaimie Spencer rarely speaks, preferring the tactile certainty of text on the pages of a dictionary, or the poetry of a latin idiom, to the noisy chaos of the world.

That is until the Sutr-X flu pandemic kills millions, and the world gets quiet. Quiet enough for Jamie to start hearing the warnings of an omnipotent entity “The Way of Things” in his dreams.

As the first wave of the virus does its worst, societies fragile order slowly disintegrates. Jamie and his family are forced to escape Kansas, fleeing north to Massachusetts, and the relative safety of the Spencer family farm.

On the road north, Jamie is told of an imminent battle, a war for the soul of humanity, and urged by “The Way of Things” to reach into the dreams of pandemic survivors, and rally an army against a new variant of Sutr.

Sutr-X has mutated, helped along by the brilliant scientist, the self-proclaimed Shiva. On a mission of her own to correct the inequalities of the world, she deliberately infects herself with a new variant of Sutr-X, Sutr-Z, Sutr-Zombie, and releases it into the world.

As this second wave rips through the United Kingdom, Shiva sets in motion a plan to release the zombie hoards on the east coast of America.

If the first wave was plague, the second cannibals, the third is a mutated version Sutr-Z, Sutr-A. Sutr-Alpha harnesses the cannibal ferocity of Sutr-Z, combines it with intelligence and strength to create an ubermensch, and apex predator, an evolutionary next step for the species.

The question is, can humanity survive these new threats, or is our destruction just The Way of Things?

More complex than your average apocalypse fiction, the trilogy owes more than a passing nod to Stephen King’s epic battle between good and evil, The Stand (1978). Chute manages to weave zombies and vampires, into the plague and dreams of his inspiration, while expanding zombie lore beyond an overflowing hell or mutating virus.

While Chute’s plot is engaging, with a story full of ideas, there were a few things I kept tripping over, mainly to do with names. For example, calling Jamie’s mother Jack was distracting. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t read Jack as feminine. Also, to my British ears Sinjin-Smythe as a surname grates. Smythe is okay. St John-Smythe maybe? Sinjin-Smythe isn’t a name. It’s a cliche for posh and British and distracting.

All that said, I still thought it was an engaging read, with a certain televisual style to the storytelling.


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