In The End Is All We See, authors M.F. Wahl and A.J. Brown offer two finely crafted tales of what this reviewer would term “environmental horror.” Here the settings themselves are the antagonists, pitting the characters against natural threats – both the elemental and the alien. This theme is not a new one, though uniquely realized in this instance, some examples being Hugh B. Cave’s The Dawning, Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, and H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space.” What chance does humanity stand when nature itself rebels? The thought provokes a deep-seated, primal fear.
Both writers offer focused and concise writing styles, cut to the bone, every word contributing to the stories’ overall mood/effect. A clear sense of place is generated, planting the reader in two fully fleshed and vastly different settings. In the case of these stories, setting does more to achieve mood than the characters do. It is true that works of horror in particular are more distinguished by their settings than works of any other genre. Both the stories present the reader with isolated, constrained settings in which the characters find themselves helpless before the hostile elements.
In M.F. Wahl’s story “Purple Haze,” much in the sci-fi tradition of Ray Bradbury, the threat is revealed gradually – the characters coming to the realization of their predicament too late. A.J. Brown’s story “Run For the Flame,” on the other hand (and much in the manner of one of the writer’s admitted influences – Stephen King’s novel The Long Walk), presents the dire circumstances of the situation within the opening pages, assaulting the reader. Both approaches are executed effectively in their own right.
The coupling of these stories in one book is appropriate in regard to their nature, and in truth they complement each other. M.F. Wahl and A.J. Brown can be proud of this effort, and they are most certainly two writers to keep an eye out for in the future.
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Review Written by W.J. Renehan