Book Review: The Conqueror Worms
This book is both exactly what I thought it wanted it to be, but also so much more than that.
SUMMARY: One day the rain just didn’t stop. As the flood waters slowly rose and coastal cities and towns disappeared, some people believed it was the end of the world. Maybe they were right. But the water wasn’t the worst part. Even more terrifying was what the soaking rains drove up from beneath the earth — unimaginable creatures, writhing, burrowing … and devouring all in their path. What hope does an already-devastated mankind have against … THE CONQUEROR WORMS?
What I wanted: a tense and fun creature feature involving gigantic worms that eat people. That box is checked for sure.
What I got instead: the giant worms are there, but so are well-developed characters I actually cared about, as well as slower-burn beginning for world building and suspense. The book also takes a turn in the second half that I was NOT expecting. No spoilers, but my jaw literally dropped open when I realized where it was going, and I immediately messaged several people I know who’ve read the book so I could gush about it. Like the book is instantly elevated from amazing to top 10 reads of the year.
I absolutely love the post-apocalyptic setup for this book. One day it started raining and then it never stopped. Such a simple yet chilling premise. The book starts some 40 days in after the rain began, and is written from the perspective of an elderly man named Teddy. Like any good creature feature we’re given unnerving scenes of mysterious incidents to build up to the terrifying reveal of the mammoth worms. It’s so creepy, and at the same time it does such a good job of populating the story with multi-faceted and engaging characters.
Like I said, the book takes some turns that shocked and surprised me. It also does a good job of pulling back the curtain some to show destruction on a global scale, while also shrouding the life-altering events in mystery to keep you guessing. It’s not necessarily a “fast-paced” read, but it never stops moving and there are plenty of scenes involving intense action and suspense to keep the pages turning. This is my first book by Brian Keene, though I’ve always known him to be an author whom many consider a master in the field of horror. After reading this I can certainly see why, and I will definitely be seeking out more of his work!
Brian Keene writes novels, comic books, short stories, and nonfiction. He is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and fantasy genres. They have been translated into over a dozen different languages and have won numerous awards. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later film) with inspiring pop culture’s recurrent interest in zombies. He has also written for such media properties as Doctor Who, Thor, Aliens, Harley Quinn, The X-Files, Doom Patrol, Justice League, Hellboy, Superman, and Masters of the Universe. Keene’s work has been praised by The New York Times, The History Channel, The Howard Stern Show, CNN, The Huffington Post, Bleeding Cool, Publisher’s Weekly, Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and Rue Morgue. Keene also serves on the Board of Directors for the Scares That Care 501c charity organization.