In the spirit of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and The Outer Limits comes Weeping Season by Seán O’Connor —A unsettling, suspenseful chiller that leaves you gasping for breath…
A group of strangers wake up in a cold isolated forest with no memory of anything before their arrival. Lost, hungry and wandering aimlessly, they are summoned to a campsite by a remote entity who controls their fate through a series of tortuous objectives. Their only hope for survival is either escape from the psychological game reserve, known as Block 18, or face mortality at the hands of its maniacal moderator, who loves nothing more than watch his participants suffer.
I have been seeing Weeping Season make its way across Instagram over the past couple of weeks, namely through a couple of my favorite follows (mother.horror and tracey_reads79), which lead me to start following O’Connor. One thing led to another and I skimmed over to Amazon in order add it to my wishlist, only to find out that it had already been released (a bit prematurely but I am not one to complain about such things).
Boy, am I glad to have found that kink in the system.
Weeping Season is perfectly captured by Tim Lebbon’s blurb on the cover – “Fast, thrilling, and brutal.”- but it is so much more than that. It has a ton of heart, though that heart is caught in a vise that is covered in barbed wire and set on fire. O’Connor has delivered a pulse-pounding, highly disconcerting novel that is Saw mixed with Hunger Games and topped off with Black Mirror. You will face your greatest fears with the anticipation of redemption, only to be cast back into the fire without a drop of water.
Throughout my reading of Weeping Season, there was not a single point in time where I can remember there not being a dramatic shift in emotion or narrative. As soon as you thought things couldn’t get worse for our cast of characters, times that by 100 and you still wouldn’t be able to comprehend the madness. Objectives meant to harden your mind and body with the hope of a morsel of food, only to crush you under the weight of your darkest fear. No hope of surviving to eat your next meal or start your next task, let alone escape the hell you have found yourself in. This novel is absolutely terrifying and I couldn’t imagine finding myself in its midst.
O’Connor provides us with just enough backstory on all of the characters to give you a sense of emotional attachment to each, though the amount of time you spend with some may not be the length at which you had hoped. The one who runs the show is very much a ‘Jigsaw’ type character that feeds off of fear, only becoming more sadistic as the story progresses. As far as world-building goes, it is quite tame but it wasn’t much of a necessary tool in this type novel. I also really enjoyed the ending as I wondered, throughout the entire novel, how the author would bring everything together. It was a true surprise to me as I was so engaged in the read that I didn’t give myself to ponder what could happen.
All in all, if you are a fan of the Saw franchise, The Hunger Games (but like a grimdark Hunger Games), or the show Black Mirror, this book is right up your alley.