Seaborne hell

Blood Ocean, by Weston Ochse, Abaddon Books, £7.99, 287 pages

The Afterblight Chronicles have been appearing since 2006. The novels, set in a near-future devastated by a plague, the Cull, are written by diverse authors.

Blood Ocean, the 11th to date, is noted horror writer Weston Ochse's first contribution to the series, and it’s a good example of how well this kind of “shared world” franchising can work. The concept of the Cull is loose enough to allow an author’s imagination to run rampant on scenarios of heroism and survival.

Ochse's certainly does with his tale of a floating city made up of numerous different ships lashed together and roaming the oceans as one. Aboard can be found a range of nationalities and castes, each vigorously defending its own turf and interests. The plot, in which a young Hawaiian, Kavika, seeks revenge for the murder of a friend, almost takes a back seat to the multilayered, often ironic and sometimes sickeningly degenerate seaborne society depicted here with such vivid, merciless skill.

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