Book Review: ‘Havoc’ by Deborah Keller

Author: Deborah Keller

Self Published in November 2021

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Set one year after a zombie apocalypse has devastated the world, Havoc by Deborah Keller follows Darcy, Ace and their community as they try to survive and make sense of this new world. But are zombies really the most dangerous creatures?

This novella reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead series. Some of the characters, and in particular the colony where Darcy is based, were reminiscent of the comic books and TV show. As a zombie story, Havoc fits into the genre well. It includes classic elements that we’ve come to expect from zombie stories; like tense supply runs and dramatic fighting/chase scenes. I really liked the twist of newly emerging zombie types for the heroes to fight. This particular element brought mystery to the story and helped to keep the plot unpredictable in a good way.

As this is a zombie apocalypse story I was enjoyably surprised that Keller was not afraid to kill off her characters. With the exception of narrator Darcy it genuinely felt as though none of the characters were safe. There were definitely a couple of character deaths that were unexpected. I found the choices Keller made to be a bold and exciting way of progressing the plot and keeping the story interesting.

Images from Deborah Keller’s Website

Havoc has a large ensemble of characters. While I liked the determination and bond between the main characters of Darcy and Ace, in comparison some of the supporting characters felt two-dimensional. One example of this is colony leader Edmund who falls into the stereotypical bad/incompetent leader category. It would have been nice if more of the supporting characters (such as members of the team Darcy travels with) were as fleshed out as her and Ace however I do understand if Keller may not have felt as though there was space to do this in her first story.

The story did have a recurring technical issue with the tense changing from past to present, sometimes within the same paragraph.

Keller’s writing sets the scene well which made it easy for me to visualise what was happening in the story. For the most part the Havoc has a good quick pace, meaning the plot is always moving, however occasionally descriptions and details were immediately repeated which did sometimes take me out of the story for a moment.

Despite my mixed feelings, on the whole I did enjoy Havoc and I would be interested in reading any future instalments.

Havoc was published on Reedsy Discovery in November, 2021. This review is also available on Discovery’s website.

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