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Reviewed by J. Aislynn d Merricksson for Readers' Favorite
Russ Watts’ Adrenal7n follows Bashar, a Syria immigrant to England, as he desperately searches for a job. No matter how qualified Bashar is, as soon as potential employers learn he is Syrian, they shut down. After another failed interview, Bashar stops in a café for a cup of tea. As Bashar sits listening to the other patrons, and thinking of his wife Nurtaj, on her way to join him at last, a fog begins to creep down the street. Now this is London and, like San Francisco, fog is par for the course. But as it spreads, the fog grows darker and darker until it has turned day to night and obscured everything it envelops. As the others discuss leaving, or if trains will be delayed, they begin to hear noises carrying through the fog. Eerie cries, moans, shuffling, and then a ground-shaking thud that rattles the building.
As they all peer out the café windows, the inky fog swirls with the approaching sound, revealing a massive scaly foot as some impossibly large creature passes by. Panic ensues, but attempts to leave prove fruitless, as are all attempts to call 999, reach family members, or access the internet for news. Two are snatched through the opened doorway when people try leaving. Then, a woman from the outside enters, looking dazed and bearing grievous wounds. She soon proves dangerous, as she attacks several of the others. Angie, a young girl snatched away, returns and also attacks the patrons. It's clear something is very, very wrong. Before all is said and done, only three of the original nine in the café remain alive, and the building is on fire. Bashar, Lulu, and Tony set out to find Tony’s van, encountering numerous bodies and several more of the possessed dead. They find only a single person still living. Neale joins the three as they attempt to escape the fog zone. But there is no escape. The fog seems endless, and filled with corpses, the undead, and impossible things far more dangerous. Where did the fog come from, and what is creating the zombies? Where is the owner of the massive leg that shook the ground? Can Bashar and his companions find their way to loved ones?
Living in a fog zone, as I do, this story creeped me out! Our fog is so prevalent, it even has a name - Karl. If you live in fog-prone areas too, you'll be giving the fog a second glance or two, listening into the abyss for the sounds of shuffling, moaning, and the fantastical footsteps of kaiju after reading Adrenal7n. I was strongly reminded of the BBC Sherlock episode The Hounds of Baskerville, yet on a much grander scale than just Duir's Hollow and the moor. Watts does a great job of getting you invested in the main characters. I really feel for Bashar most of all. It's so sad to realise how hard it must be for immigrants from “terrorist” nations to get jobs, and it saddens me to think of the cruelty they must endure from ignorant people. These lessons are particularly timely, given the current ignorance-based prejudice that is so prevalent in the US right now. The writing is quite engaging, reminding me of Dean Koontz's and Hunter Shea’s works. This was my first introduction to Russ Watts' writings, and I went and threw a few more of his books on my TBR list.