Before the plague, and the quarantine, fourteen-year-old Daniel Raymond had only heard of the Listeners. They were a gang, or at least that's what his best friend Katie's police officer father had said. They were criminals, thieves, monsters--deadly men clearly identifiable by the removal of their right ears.
That's what Daniel had heard. But he didn't know.
He didn't know much in those early days. He didn't know how the plague began, but then, no one did. The doctors and emergency medical personnel said it was airborne, and highly contagious. They said those infected became distorted both inside and out, and very, very dangerous.
Then the helicopters came and took the doctors away, and no one said much of anything after that.
Except the police officers. They said they'd provide food and order, in exchange for guns and, ultimately, anything else they felt like taking.
Daniel's mother went out for toilet paper. She never came back. He hasn't heard from Katie since the phones went dead. And with his real family gone and surrogate family unreachable, Daniel, scared and alone, has nothing except the walls of his apartment, the window shattered, the poisonous air seeping in.
That's when the Listeners arrive. Derek, the one-eared man with the big, soulful eyes, promises protection, and hope, and the choice not to sit alone and wait to die in some horrific way. He offers a brotherhood under the watch of their leader, the prophet Adam. He offers a place in the world to come.
A harrowing work of literary horror, The Listeners, Harrison Demchick's electrifying debut, is a dark and terrifying journey into loneliness, desperation, and the devastating experience of one young boy in a world gone mad.
"Prick up your ear(s) for a compelling new voice surging over the literary landscape. In his startling novel The Listeners, Harrison Demchick has crafted a story of horror and heart, of humanity both abject and noble, of a world relentlessly bleak where a rare drop of hope seeps through the cracks. Like the young protagonist, you'll struggle to figure out who the good guys are and find yourself agonizing over whether any of us can be good guys when the situation is desperate and the stakes at their highest. Strap yourself in and make sure the pistol's in the glove box--this novel is not the sunny highway along the beach but the dirt road in the night woods, when the GPS fails and your good sense tells you to turn around, but, by God, sometimes you need to see what you're made of. Get off the main road and read The Listeners."
--RON COOPER, ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF CULT HIT PURPLE JESUS, DECLARED A “LITERARY EVENT OF THE FIRST MAGNITUDE” BY THE WASHINGTON POST
“Demchick’s debut is not a zombie novel, but basically it is . . . Sicko action is minimal, with Demchick instead following the workaday structure of Colson Whitehead’s Zone One (2011) while also incorporating the kind of primary documents seen in Max Brooks’s World War Z (2006). [With] evocative nonlinear prose . . . Demchick’s depth of focus is both confident and impressive.”
―BOOKLIST (DANIEL KRAUS, AUTHOR OF BRAM STOKER AWARD FINALIST AND ODYSSEY AWARD-WINNING ROTTERS)
“Written with an Armageddon pen, envisioned with desolate wasteland eyes, and heard by a single, knowing ear, Harrison Demchick’s The Listeners provides a peephole to a ravaged world of survivors living day to day with the burden of being human. With stylistic and emotional flourishes largely missing from the post-apocalyptic subgenre, this is a novel that really shouldn’t be missed!”
—BENJAMIN KANE ETHRIDGE, BRAM STOKER AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF BLACK & ORANGE AND DUNGEON BRAIN
“Demchick’s stylish debut makes an admirably ambitious . . . attempt to breathe new life into the tried-and-true threat of zombies . . . His grab bag of techniques, including flashbacks, multiple narrators, and occasional breaks in form, lends some freshness to the story . . .”
“I’m sitting here with my hand over my mouth trying to process one of the most incredibly poetic, haunting novels I have ever read. And it's about a zombie plague. Try and picture that for a moment. Harrison Demchick has written a beautiful and disgusting, wonderful and horrifying book with a strong voice and lyrical quality, and it's about the Apocalypse . . . The Listeners is moving and powerful in a way I’ve never known a horror story to be. It’s not traditionally scary, building far more on dread than boos, but I found it creeping into my thoughts after dark. It brings up a lot of questions regarding who the monsters are and the morality of survival. It must be experienced.”
―AGELESS PAGELESS REVIEWS
“Scary and haunting, The Listeners delivers chills that burrow under your skin as well as a terrifying allegory of the times we live in.”
―JEFFREY REDDICK, CREATOR OF THE FINAL DESTINATION SERIES AND SCREENWRITER OF DAY OF THE DEAD