Unveiling the Dystopian Brilliance: A Deep Dive into Sarah Davis-Goff's Silent City (2023)

In the realm of dystopian literature, Sarah Davis-Goff's Silent City stands as a captivating exploration of themes that resonate with the human experience. While my response to this work oscillates between admiration and ambivalence, it undeniably showcases the author's prowess in weaving a narrative that delves into the complexities of dystopia, isolation, and the struggle for autonomy.

A Subtle Sequel Revelation

Silent City, a sequel to Davis-Goff's 2019 debut, Last Ones Left Alive, introduces readers to a world where zombies, known as skrake, have decimated Ireland. Unlike typical zombie tales, this narrative transforms the apocalyptic setting into a framework for a broader exploration of dystopia. The focus shifts from survival adventures to an intricate examination of power dynamics, societal structures, and the consequences of complicity.

Unveiling Phoenix City: A Bastion of Fragile Civilization

Phoenix City, the last bastion of civilization, is a meticulously constructed setting that reveals the remnants of human society. The city's social hierarchy dictates the distribution of comfort, food, and work, while a literal wall-and-ditch structure both protects and confines its inhabitants. The prohibition of unnecessary speech, a measure to avoid attracting the skrake, also serves as a tool for suppressing dissent, creating a stifling environment where rebellion is punishable by death.

Orpen's Perspective: A Voice of Familiarity

Orpen, the narrator of Silent City, adds a layer of authenticity to the narrative through her Hiberno-English voice. Her weariness with isolation, the yearning for companionship, and the struggle between personal comfort and ethical considerations resonate with readers on a deeply human level. Davis-Goff skillfully captures the essence of everyday spoken language, making Orpen a relatable and compelling protagonist.

The Betrayal and Desire for Change

The narrative takes a riveting turn when Orpen discovers a shared desire for freedom among her banshee companions. However, betrayal surfaces as Agata, Orpen's trusted ally, reveals her intent not only to leave Phoenix City but to incite its destruction. The real adversaries, it appears, are the systems of oppression rather than the skrake themselves.

A Familiar Dystopian Landscape

While Silent City excels in its atmospheric narrative, well-crafted characters, and readable prose, it traverses thematic ground that feels somewhat familiar. The portrayal of oppressive systems, charismatic violence, and the moral ambiguity surrounding revolution echoes themes found in other dystopian works. The real power lies in the exploration of revenge and its consequences, shedding light on how systems of oppression can warp even those who resist them.

Conclusion: A Dystopian Masterpiece with Familiar Undertones

Despite thematic ambivalence, Silent City emerges as a recommended read. Sarah Davis-Goff's adept storytelling and her ability to navigate the thin line between the ordinary and the shocking make this novel a compelling addition to the dystopian genre. As the narrative closes on a note of revolution and potential escape, it leaves readers with a stark reminder of the human cost of seeking justice in the face of oppression.

In the intricate tapestry of Silent City, Davis-Goff proves herself as a writer to watch. The narrative, while treading on familiar ground, offers a fresh perspective on the consequences of rebellion and the enduring impact of oppressive systems. As readers, we are left to ponder the price of freedom in a world tainted by the remnants of civilization and the looming threat of the skrake.


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