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Waiting Out Winter Paperback – August 2, 2013
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About the Author
Kelli Owen was a reviewer for fifteen years and editor of some of the biggest names in the genre for over ten. She has been to countless conventions, participated on dozens of panels, and spoken at CIA headquarters in Langley regarding her writing. And they still don't know what genre to put her in...
She's not a horror writer in the traditional sense, but no one knows exactly how to categorize her. Rather than throwing blood at the page, she prefers to let it soak in slowly. Creepy, moody, atmospheric, and quiet are her favorite way of getting under your skin. And she will. With a smile.
If you enjoy Kelli's work, please consider becoming a patron at patreon.com/kelliowen & get exclusive behind the scenes info, notes, etc. on Kelli's fiction.
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Waiting Out Winter is a short novella so I can't really say a lot without spoiling the plot. A group of guys come back from some bonding time in the woods only to find civilization has pretty much collapsed and the cause is flies.
The story deals with the isolation and the feeling of hopelessness one would I imagine feel if society as we know it vanished. There are no square jawed prepper heroes in this novel who magically have exactly what they need to survive, just a man and his family trying to make do with the odds and ends in his house.
This story is bleak, depressing which I imagine an apocalypse would be like. Yet it still has a glimmer of hope and I felt strangely uplifted at the end, yet it's not a true happy love conquers all ending.
My only criticism is there are perhaps a few too many characters for a novella and I had to go back and re read who was who but overall a damned good read and I finally have a new author that I can plow through her back catalogue of writing.
Buy it, you won't be disappointed
My only complaints are that it felt uneven. The beginning seemed like the opening to a novel and the setup towards isolation made a ton of sense. Then it felt like the story was trying to quickly reach a certain point, which I cannot mention because of spoilers, which had an emotional impact, and then it tapered off into ideas that were glossed over and then the end came abruptly.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this shouldn't have been a novella. There were enough ideas and directions in which this could have been made into a full fledged novel. It was certainly well written and deserves a better, much longer treatment
Upon returning from their last hunting trip of the season, Nick and his friends discover their hometown and beyond has been deluged by flies. Streets are empty and windows are boarded up. It's only when Nick gets home and sees it too is barricaded that his wife and family tell him about the apocalyptic overrun of flies. That might not be so bad, you might say, if you've ever been in a region that's suffered an infestation of one type of insect or another. But these flies are genetically modified, turned aggressive and infected with a virulent strain of disease that is killing anyone who gets bitten. Originally devised as a way to thwart a nuisance bug problem, these flies have gone beyond their original design and turned a small town into a wasteland.
The paranoia of being bitten and trying to keep the flies out is bad enough, but couple that with the claustrophobic conditions and dwindling resources inside the house and Nick's family unit begins to erode. Oh, and throw in some wildlife roaming the streets for good measure. Bleak is a generous word to describe this town's chances.
While there were periodical jumps in the time line, with weeks being rocketed over with a mere paragraph that I felt a bit jarring, the pace of the book along with the intense conflict Nick has between protecting his family and retaining his sanity worked really well. I also managed to develop a brief aversion to house flies after reading this chiller of a novella. Kelli has a real knack for giving small towns a bit of an epic vibe with the torment she puts her characters through, not unlike her turn with The Neighborhood, which I reviewed earlier this year.
It's creepy, it's crawly, it's a keeper.