This ambitious blend of genres tells the story of Megan Bridgewater, living on Earth in a dystopian future where it is forever daylight and the moon has shattered. Visitors have come to Earth – alien creatures who kill, then take on the bodies and identities of their victims in their quest to take over the planet. Megan knows she must find her father, Virgil, if she is to save the planet, and to do this she has to cross The Zone, a metaphysical system of force fields and lethal traps which she must navigate with nothing but her finely attuned sensibilities and her two friends to support her.
Webb mixes together the Wild West, horror, sci-fi and the supernatural to create a narrative whose beautifully realised sense of place is the dominant feature. Characters are subsumed into the surreal environments and rather lack development: Kelly, in particular, is entertainingly drawn initially but fades later in the novel. Again, initially the storyline is gripping but then seems diluted by the detail and immediacy of the settings.
Webb raises moral dilemmas which intrigue – Megan’s true identity, power versus humanity – but, frustratingly, they remain largely unexplored. The abruptness of the ending is the chief culprit here as the reader is simply not given sufficient time to assimilate the rapid succession of dramatic events and unravel their conundrums. Philip Webb has written an unusual book whose broad sweep does not always allow the reader to engage with it fully.