Survivor Song: A Novel

· Sold by HarperCollins
15 reviews

About this ebook

A propulsive and chillingly prescient 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.

“Absolutely riveting.” — Stephen King

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.

Ratings and reviews

15 reviews
Joelle Egan
May 29, 2020
If anyone can write an apocalyptic epidemiological novel these days without seeming opportunistic or tactless it is Paul Tremblay. The horror and suspense writer will publish Survivor Song in July 2020, right on the heels of his critically acclaimed collection of short stories Growing Things. Tremblay excels at creating a creeping sense of unease and mounting panic, culminating in cinematic scenes of violence and terror. His style is perfect, therefore, for portraying a fictional epidemic that not only decimates people’s bodies, but perverts their minds as well. He begins this work with the warning: “This is not a fairy tale,” and with this caveat the reader knows that all will not end prettily in the pages to follow. The book opens as a very-pregnant Natalie awaits the return of her husband who is breaking curfew to get them supplies. U.S. citizens have been warned that they should quarantine themselves to curtail a communicable illness that is a new, mutant form of rabies. Those infected are quickly reduced to an animal-like state, insane with a desire to bite and thereby spread the disease. There is no cure and increasing panic has erupted due to an incompetent government response. Paul makes it back home in time, but the couple is immediately besieged by an infected man who fatally attacks Paul and exposes Natalie to the illness. This is only the beginning of the story, and the remainder of the book is dedicated to Natalie’s desperate quest for treatment with the help of her best friend (and pediatrician), Ramola. Time is of the essence, and the two women are faced with challenges of callous bureaucracy, rampant disorganization, vigilantism and bigotry as they race through the Boston Area seeking help. They also encounter helpers who aid in their quest—whose heroism counters the prevailing sense of pessimism and misanthropy. Survivor Song is a slow-burning thriller containing a thinly veiled political statement and pointed jab at the handling of the current COVID pandemic. Tremblay shows the various behaviors and attitudes people may manifest when faced with life-threatening situations. He certainly does not shy away from depicting the uglier side of human nature in its most feral state. Tremblay’s novel is not completely despairing, however, as he also illuminates the choice of self-sacrifice over self-preservation. This is a book that is timely and germane to the current state of our world, inviting an unflinching examination of ourselves and our own potential responses to the challenges we face. Thanks to the author, William Morrow and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
2 people found this review helpful
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Sandra Chase
November 16, 2022
loved it couldn't put it down
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About the author

Paul Tremblay has won the Bram Stoker, British Fantasy, and Massachusetts Book awards and is the nationally bestselling author of The Beast You Are, The Pallbearers Club, Survivor Song, Growing Things and Other Stories, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, A Head Full of Ghosts, and the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. His novel The Cabin at the End of the World was adapted into the Universal Pictures film Knock at the Cabin. He lives outside Boston with his family.

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