In Review: The Brink

Fast paced action and horror escapism.

The Brink by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

Published by Harper Voyager on June 18, 2019. Hardcover of 232 pages at $25.99 and and eBook at $10.99.

The cover: The top of the cover states in a faded blue Internationally Bestselling Authors of Awakened. Beneath this are the authors’ names in silver. The Jacket illustration by Larry Rostant is in the upper center. It’s a black clawed hand with gray highlights reaching through an open square in a door. Beneath this is the book’s title in stark red with slashes within each. Under this in white is An Awakened Novel. This is a great cover, with the jacket design by Richard L. Aquan, that teases what’s to be found in this tale. This is a cover that would make me want to pick this book up to read more. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the inside front cover, “Former New York City mayor Tom Cafferty has been haunted by the horror of that single day: the opening of the brand-new Z Train subway line beneath the Hudson River — the supposed shining pinnacle of his tenure. But the ribbon-cutting ceremony turned deadly when the train carrying Cafferty’s wife and other citizens was attacked by a horde of hyperintelligent, bloodthirsty creatures previously unknown to humanity. Everything changed for Cafferty, ex-NYPD officer Sarah Bowcut, and tech expert Diego Munoz that day. And they had uncovered another deadly truth: the attack was no accident. The creates that wreaked havoc underneath New York have now spread worldwide, and facing a massive cover-up — and a secret organization holding whole nations hostage — Cafferty’s team must fight against impossible odds to save the entire planet from an apocalyptic disaster.” Monsters under the cities of the world? A secret organization? Only three people can stop the destruction of the world? This sounds very comic booky, but I’m more than ready for a book like this. I did not read the previous book, so I’m hoping this doesn’t hurt my reading. Overall grade: A-

The characters: Tom Cafferty is the book’s lead. He’s got a little bit of clout as the former mayor of NYC, but he’s still on the outs with many after the disaster that occurred. He’s driven to make sure the world is aware of the threat the underground creatures pose. He’s incredibly fit for a mayor, running and ducking as trouble comes hurtling his way. He was the voice of authority for the heroes, though he has one weakness: Ellen Cafferty, his wife. She’s kidnapped fairly early in the novel and is a chip to keep Tom away from the villains. I was happy to discover she’s as hardcore as her husband, for when threatened she doesn’t become the standard damsel in distress. Sarah Bowcut and Diego Munoz are Tom’s two experts that investigate the creatures’ lairs and report their findings to him. Neither one really stood out from the other and not helping is that there were with others on their investigative teams. They were okay, but were interchangeable with one another. Ex-President John Reynolds wasn’t killed in the previous book, but is being kept alive as a bargaining chip like Ellen. He’s very much an old school, all-American, who wants the antagonists to just shut up and kill him. He’s in the book briefly, but was fun. Albert Van Ness is the big bad of the book, more so than the underground beasts. He’s the son of a Nazi that gets around in a electronic wheelchair, reminding me of a James Bond villain. He’s definitely cut from that mold, speaking in a very decisive voice that is cartoony cliché. It’s not necessarily bad, because there’s joy to be found in a villain that stops short of twirling a mustache, though it does lower the seriousness of his threat. His demands from each country are unquestionably Ian Fleming based. Van Ness leads the group his father created, The Foundation for Human Advancement. This group allows him to create weapons and bases straight out of a Bond film. He’s even got his trusted aide, Allen Edwards, though he doesn’t do as much as I hoped. The other big bads of this book are the Alien-like creatures from the interiors of the Earth. I couldn’t picture them any other way than as those cinematic monsters, which again, is fine, but gave this book a comic book feel. These characters are fun, but are not to be taken further than their source materials. Overall grade: B-

The settings: Several countries are visited, chief among them America, England, and France. In each location creatures have created nests that threaten to erupt and start feeding. Going to these different places gives the book an epic tone and makes the danger universal. The nests that are discovered are described with very sinister and foreboding language, making them exciting. However, the best setting of the book is the Van Ness’s headquarters in Paris that’s straight out of James Bond. It’s full of monitoring equipment, scientists installing new tech, and several rooms where prisoners can be tortured by the creatures that threaten humanity. I really liked this location and could have spent much more time exploring it. Overall grade: A 

The action: There are several action scenes that are exciting. The book opens with a romantic scene that goes ghastly, which is then followed by a meeting in England that becomes a shocker. This action scene is described very cinematically, with bullets flying, a creature loose, people dying, and a helicopter. I wondered if the authors could maintain the pace after this opening and they do so well, with the heroes splitting up to fight the villains and trying to stay alive if they’ve been captured. The climax is also very exciting. This book’s strength is in its actions. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: The expected confrontations, guns, lasers, and a surprise savor conclude the threat, for now. This book ends satisfactorily, with the possibility of another outing apparent. Everything that I expected to happen happened, so it wasn’t as thrilling as I had hoped. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Epic action from the threat of creatures from the Earth’s core as well as the power mad son of a Nazi. Shameless adventures and thrills take joy in presenting a tale that’s not often attempted. This is action and horror escapism that is fast paced and travels to many locales. A fun read. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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