Review: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Rating: 9.0/10


A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages . . . and shake them to their core.


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Survivor Song in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Survivor Song is a harrowing, unflinching tale of fear and survival during the first throes of a rapidly spreading epidemic. The author’s use of emotionally-gripping storytelling and thrilling suspense, alongside moments of pure and unadulterated terror, make Survivor Song one of THE must-read horror novels of 2020. This may just be Tremblay’s best novel to date.

I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to Paul Tremblay. I first read A Head Full of Ghosts prior to its release thanks to a Goodreads giveaway and it has been bliss ever since. Let’s face it: the man knows how to set his hook in within the first few pages, leaving escape or rescue a thing of the past. In fact, his short story collection, Growing Things and Other Stories, was #3 on my Top Reads of 2019 list which is a heck of a feat considering I read 150+ books a year.

Survivor Song gave me strong 28 Days Later (directed by Danny Boyle) meets The Walking Dead (written by Robert Kirkman) vibes, so if you are a fan of either, there is plenty to like here. There are plenty of jump scares and edge-of-your-seat moments that will keep the pages turning, but the entire arc of Natalie and Ramola’s struggle and will to survive is what makes this read so astonishing. There are secondary characters aplenty, including several that play pivotal roles in getting Nats/Rams to their destination, and of course plenty of animals that gnash their teeth and provide impossible odds, but they just don’t hold a candle.

While there was a section or two that seemed to drag on a bit too long, IMO, this didn’t detract from the overall story, and honestly, some added a bit of comic relief to an otherwise despairing narrative. The fact that this story could be turned into reality at any given point in time also adds a bit of intrigue from anyone looking for a read with plausibility.

Overall, I really enjoyed Survivor Song and think you will, too. If you are even a casual horror fan, there is plenty to find here to quench your thirst. You know, unless you are hydrophobic…

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