There was a canyon where I lived in Utah with a species of flowers that grew on both sides of the canyon, and over time the ones on the south vs. the north sides diverged in their taxonomy. This happened over a matter of decades, the main culprit being how much light they got. PANDEMONIUM by Warren Fehy takes that concept to the depths of the Earth: completely separated from the surface and its influence for millions of years, how would subterranean species evolve?
In terrifying ways, apparently.
Biologists Nell and Geoffrey are specialists in new and dangerous species–having recently survived an encounter on the lost and isolated Hender’s Island. Their expertise catches the attention of a Russian tycoon who has purchased a Soviet-era underground city and wants to turn it into a paradise, so he gives them an offer they can’t refuse. He neglects to tell them, however, the real reason why they’re there: species from Hender’s island have escaped and he needs Nell and Geoffrey to tell him how to stop them.
Fehy includes photos at the back of the book for the creatures from Pandemonium and Hender’s Island, which are based on mollusk physiology, and behave aggressively–survival of the species is their mantra. If they escape the underground city, it would only be a matter of months, maybe years, before they wipe out the human population.
It’s pretty easy after knowing the above what’s going to happen with the story. Nell and Geoffrey prove their moxie, the tycoon gets his comeuppance, military personnel are brought in and have a limited time frame to save the survivors before the place is nuked in order to save humanity. Yadda yadda.
The predictable story is framed with lame dialogue, an omniscient PoV that’s all over the place even within a scene, and stock characters without clear motivations. Fortunately the pace moved quickly–enough to keep me going, at any rate–and the descriptions of the deadly species are interesting enough.
It was exciting but also forgettable at the same time.
Recommended Age: 15+
Language: A handful of instances
Violence: It’s a horror story along the lines of Jurassic Park, so yes there’s blood and death, sometimes grisly
Sex: Vaguely implied
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