Title: The Three
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Little Brown (US), Hoddler amd Stoughton (UK)
Release Date: 20 May 2014
Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he's right?I was fortunate enough to obtain an ARC of The Three, the latest from South African author, Sarah Lotz (the other half of SL Grey and Lily Herne). I have been in a terrible reading slump of late and this bears mentioning as I picked up The Three late Saturday afternoon and finished it in the wee hours of Monday morning.
The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.
Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival...
Oh, I do love a creepy, well-constructed horror story. The Three kicks off with the world being rocked by four simultaneous plane crashes. Upon hearing of the survival of three children, conspiracy theories start popping up ranging from the coming of the apocalypse to an alien invasion. It does not help that the children start acting a little... bizarre!
Told in the form of a collection of first-hand accounts of the events following the plane crashes, The Three took some getting used to initially. But, luckily it does focus on select central characters in the story. I enjoyed this style, as it kept me guessing and wondering how much I could believe that particular account.
There is a great subtlety to the horror in The Three. I found it was more implied and the unknown aspects that the reader is left to piece together adds to it. It would make a brilliant film, I think.
I did enjoy how well-researched this novel is in terms of culture and superstition. There was a nice local touch of course and the religious and and traditional aspects were completely plausible. Nothing felt like it had been fabricated from thin air, which is the mark of a good storyteller.
The Three is an amazing page-turner with enough plausibility that readers who steer clear from traditional horror fiction will still enjoy it.
I am really looking forward to seeing how it is going to do internationally, as Sarah Lotz has the makings of a female, South African Stephen King.
The Three is published on the 20th May 2014 in the US and 22nd May 2014 in the UK.
(This review was based on an uncorrected advanced reader's copy of the novel provided by the publisher.)