Epeolatry Book Review: And Then I Woke Up by Malcolm Devlin


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Title: And Then I Woke Up
Author: Malcolm Devlin
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
Release Date: 10th June, 2022

Synopsis: In the tradition of Mira Grant and Stephen Graham Jones, Malcolm Devlin’s And Then I Woke Up is a creepy, layered, literary story about false narratives and their ability to divide us.

In a world reeling from an unusual plague, monsters lurk in the streets while terrified survivors arm themselves and roam the countryside in packs. Or perhaps something very different is happening. When a disease affects how reality is perceived, it’s hard to be certain of anything…

Spence is one of the “cured” living at the Ironside rehabilitation facility. Haunted by guilt, he refuses to face the changed world until a new inmate challenges him to help her find her old crew. But if he can’t tell the truth from the lies, how will he know if he has earned the redemption he dreams of? How will he know he hasn’t just made things worse?

How much can we really trust an unreliable narrator in a dystopia? Malcolm Devlin gives us a chance to answer that question as we dive head first into his novella ‘And Then I Woke up.’

Before the world changed, Spence worked at a pizza parlor as a dishwasher. When the world as he knew it came to an end, he was at work where both his fellow employees and the customers all started to turn into infected zombie-esque creatures. Almost everyone he stumbles across is one of these ravenous infected that he has to fight off to stay alive. Or, so it seems. It doesn’t take long for us to learn why Spence is an unreliable narrator. It turns out he was one of the infected. Those he was killing? They weren’t.

Devlin uses this setup as an interesting way to reflect mass hysteria and the ideological divides that are running rampant across the world. While the novel appears to be set in Australia, it isn’t in your face about it and the social commentary can easily reflect any number of nations.

In ‘And Then I Woke up’ Malcolm Devlin gives us a surface-level horror story with social commentary hidden under the surface that is a quick and enjoyable read.

That being said, I felt that some of the social commentary was a bit too on the nose in some parts, and the story could have been fleshed out more in every aspect from the horrors of what appeared to be going on and fleshing out some of the characters. I did quite enjoy the read and clearly am recommending it with 4 out of 5 ravens; I just wanted to let you know what fell short on the perfect score, and I do believe my complaints are minor and more likely personal over how others will read the story.


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