If you can count Sir Terry Pratchett as one of your fans, then you’re obviously doing something right. Michael Logan’s debut novel was the (joint) winner of Pratchett’s inaugural Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now award, and made the great man “snort with laughter”.
Lesley McBrien is a journalist on a local newspaper. When she intercepts a call meant for a colleague, she discovers that the government’s been developing a virus and testing it on cattle. Unfortunately, something has gone very wrong, and the infected animals are transforming into ravenous killers. It’s not long before one of the horrendous herd escapes and spreads the infection. Whoops, apocalypse…
Despite its daft premise, Apocalypse Cow is played mostly straight. For the characters, these events are horribly real. But while Logan’s breezy prose style is perfect for describing psychotic Scottie dogs, it doesn’t quite gel with the darker moments. An early scene where a character watches a child get trampled beneath a flock of sheep is particularly uncomfortable.
Still, there are plenty of laughs to be had, particularly from Logan’s trio of charmingly useless protagonists. At times, it recalls Robert Rankin’s Brentford books, albeit with more of a scatological bent. The evil animals don’t just kill people: they hump them too. If you can get past that grim mental image, then you’ll likely find this a lot of fun. Hardly a classic, but a promising first novel.
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