Yes, I’m having a love affair with my Nook. Some would say it’s a relationship that borders on the unnatural, but that’s a tale for another day. But what’s not to love? Online book shopping with instant gratification, prices ranging from reasonable to crazy cheap, and no cumbersome stacks of books building up around the house. Oh, baby baby baby.
Well, I’ve found yet another reason to love my Nook: the novella. Hovering in that nether realm between novel and short story, it used to be that the only way to market a novella was in a magazine, as part of a collection, or sometimes in a stand alone small press publication (which had the unpleasant habit of being kind of pricey). Now I’m seeing tons of novellas and short stories being sold as stand alone ebooks and at some pretty irresistible prices. Jason Brannon’s Winds of Change, 60 pages of end of the world style creep-out, is going for just $1.99 for the NookBook version, the Amazon Kindle version, and several other digital formats if you go to Smashwords.com.
The staff and customers of a small town hardware store find that the power failure they’re experiencing is the very least of their worries. In the streets outside people are suddenly and horrifically disintegrating into piles of what appears to be salt. Anyone who sets foot out the door suffers the same fate, and our characters find themselves trapped in the midst of either a chemical warfare attack or the judgment of The Almighty.
Brannon’s book is fun little time killer, and with only 60 pages to play with he makes every one of them count, but don’t expect something that hasn’t been done before. If you’ve read Stephen King’s The Mist or seen the movie version you’ll definitely get a sense of deja vu. There’s also a resemblance to the 2010 film Legion (though I believe Winds of Change was written first) and there’s a bit near the novella’s climax that will have you saying “didn’t they do that in The Omen?” The fast pace of the story seems to have left a few inconsistencies in its wake too. One character improbably starts wondering about a terrorist attack the moment the store’s backup generator doesn’t kick in and for some reason no one ever tries using a telephone to contact the outside world. Still the story manages to stand up on its own, and Brannon turns in an enjoyable read that keeps you wondering all the way through whether or not the catastrophe is supernatural in origin. This one is well worth your time.