Fiona van Dahl, author
In a single drop of contaminated blood, there writhe millions of needle-shaped cells. When introduced to a host, they spread — healing wounds, replenishing fluids, patching bone. The host becomes unstoppable; even complete destruction of its brain isn’t necessarily the end. All their cells are gradually replaced, enhanced. Eden Green is the third human to see the needles in action, after her best friend Veronica accepts them without thinking. Patient Zero is Tedrin, a shady manipulator who offers the corruption as a path to immortality. Only Eden, a rationalist by nature, questions Tedrin’s motives; she can’t help imagining an eternity as a human weapon trapped in a body made of needles. Armed with reason, humor, and a shotgun, she sets out to learn as much as she can about the parasite — and how to save her sanity, Veronica, and the world.
Horror newcomer van Dahl gives the reader a visceral kick but commits some freshman fumbling in this first-person narrative of alien incursion. Eden Green is a young scientist in Gothic, Ark., still hanging out with her drama-prone middle school BFF, Veronica. Ron has a new boyfriend, Tedrin, and a new ability to recover from even horrific injuries, apparently brought about by a needle-like symbiote that Tedrin has infected her with. As patient zero, Tedrin is the only source of knowledge about the origin and progression of this infection. He’s also a psychopath. Are the needles to blame for his twisted mind? And how are they connected to the strange, lethal creatures that have begun to appear in Gothic? Van Dahl’s ability to evoke the crunch of bone and screams of agony is impressive, and her fresh combination of astute but not entirely emotionally mature central characters is a welcome change of pace for the genre. About halfway in, the momentum sputters as the gore becomes repetitive and implications proliferate beyond van Dahl’s willingness to pursue them, but her descriptive power and inventiveness never flag in this arresting exploration of the aliens within and without. (BookLife)