Dealing with the lizards is the norm for Cora, they’re nothing but feral animals that can be easily outplayed, but when two strangers emerge from the forest with a gun, they threaten the few things she has left to fight for. There’s a reason she keeps herself isolated in the mountains, but now she must face her own kind.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Horrific Tales Publishing for giving me the opportunity.
It’s rare I feel that pull that makes a book a five star, so it’s no surprise I can count my top reads of the year on one hand. Call me picky, stingy, or whatever else, but When The Cicadas Stop Singing quickly made it on that short list – that’s how much I enjoyed it. Taking place when society has crumbled after monsters sprung from the ground, Cora tries to live a quiet but cautious life in the the picturesque wilderness of the Australian mountains. The thing that immediately drew me was Cora’s isolation and the various details of how she managed her time in the aftermath of immense loss. When it comes to human versus nature, I always find the struggle engrossing, and even though Cora had a pretty decent setup around her, it was no less fascinating to read about. She was the best kind of protagonist, made all the more compelling by her grief; smart, resourceful, even her distrustful qualities made her the type of heroine that I love.
Nothing against zombies and the sort, but it was great to have a different kind of threat that brought the end of civilisation, in this case, lizard-men. I can state without doubt that they were a first for me, but despite enjoying the high-speed chases and violence, the biggest menace lay with the human beings. Anyone familiar with the post-apocalyptic genre will know what to expect – careful who you trust at the end of the world – yet Ashford’s writing reinvigorated these well-known tropes. While there was little detail on the world itself and the event that led to its current state, I didn’t feel like I needed to know the exact ins and outs as my interest and focus were glued to Cora’s corner. If anything, the novella length suited the story, with each scene having meaning and getting to the point without any beating around the bush.
In conclusion: When The Cicadas Stop Singing involved a lush setting, scaly predators, and one woman trying to keep it together. I couldn’t help but get swept up into Ashford’s prose, everything from the bloody fights to the touching moments, resulting in a memorable experience overall. I always looked forward to picking it up again, and even though I feared it might’ve catered off in the middle, it never did, instead establishing itself as a favourite. It had a mix of elements I adore, one of them being a strong leading character.
Morality was a luxury, she realised – the privilege of people who were safe.
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