Night of the Flood edited by E. A. Aymar and Sarah M. Chen is an unusual book. The stories by a variety of authors share a setting, plot events and characters. They represent different perspectives on an unnatural disaster engineered by a group of women who call themselves The Daughters. I was intrigued and requested a free copy from the publisher via publicist Wiley Saichek.
The book opens with "Dear Townspeople of Everton" which is a letter explaining the motivations of The Daughters. They consider their destruction of a dam just outside the fictional town of Everton, Pennsylvania an act of justice. Is it indeed an act of justice, or is it an act of terrorism? Can it be justified?
The remaining stories show how people react to the disaster, and how it impacts their lives.
I thought the first of these, "The Orphans" by E. A. Aymar about a brother and sister pair of central characters was immensely powerful because it made me sympathize with a girl who was a total sociopath. Her life had damaged her so severely that she was incapable of empathy. The last story in the anthology, "The Chase" by Elizabeth Heiter, was also about a brother and sister pair who seem to be almost mirror opposites of the central characters in the first story. These brother and sister pairs, the horrors in their pasts and what they made of their lives seemed to bracket the anthology. This shows that The Night of the Flood focuses more on character dilemmas than on the disaster that has overwhelmed Everton.
As if Everton didn't have enough homegrown problems, they had to be visited by an out of town serial killer in "Carter Hank McKatar Takes A Sedative At One In The AM" by Shannon Kirk. The concept of this story is what causes it to stand out. It involves a twist that makes it even darker than the standard serial killer story.
On the other end of the spectrum are a pair of stories about women that I considered heartening. "The Darkest Hour" by Hilary Davidson opens with a mother and her children taking refuge in a high school gymnasium which reminded me of news footage showing the survivors of real life hurricanes. It turned out that the flood wasn't the biggest threat to this family. In "A Watery Grave" by Sarah M. Chen, a female trucker is caught in the Everton disaster. Both female protagonists seem to be trapped, but they are underestimated and turn out to be more resourceful than they appear.
I found The Night of the Flood unexpected. Some stories moved me while others made me think. I recommend it to readers who have an appetite for a book that's very different.