Opening as a somewhat familiar zombie shoot-’em-up and developing into a sophisticated military action thriller, Patrick Ashe’s THE WINTER QUEEN CONTINGENCY begins as a terrible virus has turned much of the population of the United States into flesh-eating zombies, and the military’s attempt to contain it is badly blundered. It’s up to a couple of rebel fighters to keep the infected at bay until a cure for the virus can be found. But a cure is still far off. Over decades, the infected evolved into the Infinite, a complex society with a political hierarchy and global agenda.
History repeats in the most disturbing ways in THE WINTER QUEEN CONTINGENCY–the story of humanity’s aggression and refusal to learn from violent mistakes. Wars start over philosophy and resources, but battles are often personal and petty. Characters drive Ashe’s story. First, Mike and Cassandra battle against the infected and the dunderheaded American military. The second half of book focuses on Cassandra’s daughter, Angelina, leader of the Remnants, the land band of humans on Earth. Angelina must face down Infinite leader Sarmat, who plans to wipe out the Remnants, and her rebellious military leaders. Ashe’s take on the zombie genre blends elements of “28 Days Later” and “Aliens” with Justin Cronin’s “The Passage” and Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s “The Strain” but the author introduces a modern twist. Cassandra was a trans woman, and Angelina must draw upon that duality to battle internal and external foes. Themes of transformation frequently appear in the novel. Cassandra transitions from one gender to another, from outlaw warrior to military leader. Daughter Angelina’s transition into a human-monster hybrid is even more daring and terrifying.
Loose ends in the story—like the nebulous phantoms that haunt the blasted landscape, and the Seven, a group of Infinite with no animosity toward humans—will likely be answered in future novels. It will be interesting to see how Ashe handles the politics and power moves.
Patrick Ashe’s THE WINTER QUEEN CONTINGENCY is a thought-provoking action thriller that examines the politics of a post-apocalyptic world following a zombie plague and nuclear war.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader