Review: To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo


May Contain Spoilers


Zombies!  How I love them!  Or do I love reading about how the survivors adapt to their new normal?  John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising is an action-filled series, with lots of zombie-killing action.  That’s not why I find these books so riveting, though.  I love the premise of a tiny force of survivors out at sea, searching tirelessly for other survivors.  This set of circumstances is new to me, and am eating it up!  I also enjoy the two younger characters, Faith and Sophia.  It is doubtful that I would react as bravely as these sisters, and I have totally bought into the idea that they each have important skills to contribute to the efforts to save the world, or what’s left of it, from the infected hordes that have overwhelmed humanity.


While the small Wolf Squadron, now recognized as official members of the United States Navy, waits for hurricane season to pass, they liberate small pockets of survivors in the Canary Islands.  They need ships and personnel for Steve Smith’s ambitious plan to take back Gitmo, and ultimately, the rest of the United States. They need the facilities at Gitmo to make more vaccines against the plague.  As they rescue more people, each survivor is given a choice – join up with Smith’s forces, or wait out the remainder of the zombie plague in the cabin of a cruise ship, receiving minimal rations and even fewer freedoms.  Seems like a no brainer to me!

I could not put this book down when the focus was on clearing portside towns or searching for supplies or ships for the Wolf Squadron.  I don’t even know what I found so compelling about the admittedly repetitive clearance efforts.  Maybe I was waiting for Faith to go all Rambo again, slaughtering infected with cool precision.   Or maybe the suspense of not knowing what they would find each time they boarded a new ship or entered a new port kept me on the edge of my seat.  Would anyone get themselves killed?  Yes!  Someone I liked, too!  Argh!  At the same time, several characters that I just can not stand managed to stay, disappointingly, alive.

The one thing I did not enjoy – all of the military jargon.  Ugh!  I needed a dictionary to understand some of the acronyms!  The powwows between Smith and the other leaders of the greatly diminished United States just brought everything to a screeching halt.  The pompous, longwinded dialog also jarred me out the story.  I did learn more about ammunition that I thought possible, and the zombie mulch machine was a nice, though grossly messy, touch.

If you enjoyed Under a Graveyard Sky, you will more than likely enjoy To Sail a Darkling Sea as well.  I’ll end with the same warning I gave after the first book of the series – the words To Be Continued cruelly bring this story to another non-ending.  Islands of Rage and Hope, the third book, comes out in August, so I guess it’s not long a wait to see what happens next to our intrepid band of survivors.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A World Cloaked in Darkness
With human civilization annihilated by a biological zombie plague, a rag?tag fleet of yachts and freighters known as Wolf Squadron scours the Atlantic, searching for survivors. Within every abandoned liner and carrier lurks a potential horde, safety can never be taken for granted, and death and turning into one of the enemy is only a moment away.
The Candle Flickers
Yet every ship and town holds the flickering hope of survivors. One and two from lifeboats, a dozen from a fishing village, a few hundred wrenched by fury and fire from a ship that once housed thousands…
Light a Flame
Now Wolf Squadron must take on another massive challenge: clear the assault carrier USS Iwo Jima of infected before the trapped Marines and sailors succumb to starvation. If Wolf Squadron can accomplish that task, an even tougher trial awaits: an apocalyptic battle to win a new dawn for humanity. The war for civilization begins as the boats of the Wolf Squadron become a beacon of hope on a Darkling Sea.
At the publisher’s request, this title is sold without DRM (Digital Rights Management).