"Crogian" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Necro Publications
Written by John Leahy
2012, 258 pages, Fiction
Released on August 2nd, 2012
If you've ever wondered what it would look like if Stephen King's Tommyknockers and his short story "The Mist" mated and had a child, Crogian is the book for you. Honestly, the biggest problem I had in reading this book is the inevitable comparisons in plot lines to the two stories previously mentioned. If you've read them, or seen the movies based on them, it's going to flash through your head. However, it's not a direct enough take that I would say it's a rip-off of King, but your brain will go there regardless. And, while John Leahy lacks the natural storytelling prose of King, he does a more than able job.
In Alaska, a gold prospector finds an unearthly object buried in the ground. The US government takes over the land surrounding the find and proceeds to dig it out and activate it, opening a wormhole of sorts. The second act sees a probe through the wormhole that comes back with soil samples enabling scientists to develop a super-growth formula that, perhaps, works too well. It greatly increases growth rates and sizes for many different forms of vegetation and fauna. However, the food grown is poisonous if consumed and the giant insects are deadly and oversized as well. The government, in its infinite wisdom, decides to weaponize the serum, and of course it gets triggered. The rest of the novel becomes one family's attempt to survive in a now alien landscape.
Although a lot of the plot and narrative feels derivative, it is well written and enjoyable if you can let that aspect go. There is enough uniqueness to carry the reader along, and the story itself is compelling. Leahy does a good job of fleshing out characters and populating his world with likeable people you can't help but care about. His villains are equally real and vile, making it easy to hate them. Yet, although many of the characters are obvious and even stereotypical to their roles, no one feels one-dimensional or wooden and they all serve the story well. Crogian has great visuals inherent in the plot and manages to unnerve the reader through very detailed descriptions. The creatures are a big part of the tale, but for the most part, Leahy focuses more on the human drama, which is ultimately more engaging and satisfying for the reader.
For a first novel, Leahy shows great promise. He doesn't rush the ending, nor does he drag the story out needlessly. He also doesn't shy away from the horrors of survival that might otherwise be glossed over. It's appreciated that he has characters we care about die. It's real and human and helps to sell the terror of the situation. This is definitely worth a read, and on the Kindle, won't set you back very much to do so. I'm excited to see what Leahy can do with an original story and I hope he continues to publish.