Then he heard it: a long and shuddering moo, emanating from deep within the trees. The moo came again thirty seconds later, quieter this time. It was moving away, towards the rolling fields where thousands of dairy cows grazed in blissful ignorance, and the suburbs beyond.
“Oops,” he murmured, and hopped down the hill as fast as his unsullied foot could carry him.
The news reports says it was a stampede that sadly resulted in the abattoir burning to the ground. But one cow didn’t die and soon a virus has been unleashed which turns Scotland’s cattle into slobbering, sneezing, flesh-craving and horny beasts.
Not only did a cow survive, but abattoir worker, Terry also made it through the massacre but is now being held hostage in what looks suspiciously like a secret government research facility. The tip-off of the government’s involvement falls into the lap of the worst reporter at the Glasgow Tribune, who’s just lost her job. Geldof is a miserable teenage boy, ginger hair, English, vegan parents that force him to wear hemp and won’t allow him to even have a sniff of meat. Their neighbours include Terry’s meat loving cousin who also has anger issues. Can this motley bunch save the day? Or is Britain doomed to be nuked by the French?
There are some of you that will shy away from this because it has zombies in it. Yet the death is never the subject of the jokes. The characters mourn their losses and feel regret at leaving people behind. The humour is in the things that people do under stress and their reactions. Middle class suburbanites trying to hoist their Samsonite cases onto evacuation trucks. The vegan who is convinced her meat-free life will ultimately save her. The things that teenage boys do that could possibly be mistaken for a zombie attack. The squirrels! The kitten! Go on, read it and you’ll see.
Humour is often under-appreciated in the book world. People want books that make them feel something but often dismiss books that will make them laugh out loud. It’s hard to say in a review what I thought was funny because I can easily ruin the jokes for you but I can say that after chapter 18 I had to put the down for a few minutes because I was laughing so much. The kind the bubbles up when you think you’re done.
Apocalypse Cow is the joint winner of the Terry Pratchett, Anywhere but here, anywhen but now, First Novel Award. It’s a book that will certainly appeal to fans of Terry and, if you forgive my cross-media comparison, Shaun of the Dead. It is due to be published by Doubleday in hardback and ebook editions on 10th May 2012. Thanks go to Transworld for providing me with a copy for review. You can follow @MichaelLogan on Twitter, find more about his work as a journalist on his website and read his blog.
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