So......okay, Brian, I started reading this on a rainy day, just like you suggested, and, by the time I was finished, there was sun in the sky.
And that's very unlike The Conqueror Worms, because in it the rain never stops. Imagine that. Well, I guess, in this book you can more than imagine.......
But before I get into all that, let's get into the blah blah blah, and I mean that very respectfully: firstly, Brian is an established ace at writing what he writes. I'd rather not pat him too much on the back for fear the swelling redness between his shoulder blades may make him wince in pain from all the countless other pats. He's got a plethora of notches under his literary belt and is one of today's outstanding voices in horror fiction. Two Stokers, an impressive body of work in few enough years to more than rival authors with twice as much longevity in the business....Keene is head and shoulders above his breed to date and there's no reason to believe he won't become a household name in time. That's the blah blah blah.
The Conqueror Worms is the first novel I'd read of his, and as for my assessment of it, here goes:
A man growing older in years and wrestling with a serious nicotine fit writes an account of his last days, from his personal point of view and exploits, of course, but these may likely be the last days of Mankind also. It seems that God has broken His promise to Noah that He'd destroy the Earth with water never ever again, and globally it's now rained constantly for more than forty days and nights, all it took to cover the world with H20 the first time, biblically. And this time, in this story.......
.......it's like Dante's Waterworld. (If I had the money, I'd open up a water theme park and call it just that, team up with Brian to make it something abysmally special.....)
Though clearly here there is no such thing as dry land, land does exist and it is the world's coastal areas that lie under a sea swallowing more of it each day. Now, we all know earthworms emerge from the earth when it rains. The rich, juicy element of genius in this book, in my opinion, is Keene's core idea: if it rains and the rain forces earthworms from the ground, then what will it force from out of the ground if it rained long enough?
In the lore of mankind's history, we imagine we get closer to hell the deeper into the earth we look. Brian looks deep into the earth. And like a magician pulling the obvious from out of a top hat, we get from the earth's inner reaches not merely earthworms but colossal carnivorous ones that make the sand worms of Herbert's Dune look like timid giants and these are their terrestrial progeny experiencing their terrible twos.
Very War of the Worlds, as Keene himself remarks in his narrative halfway through, and I was thinking along those lines myself though also more precisely Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. And there's a very nifty second act, where the author takes us away for awhile from the earthworm situation and introduces us to a new set of characters under similar circumstances, but where Satanist surfers, seductive mermaids and Lovecraftian underworld lords take the reader into a wild ride.
Though I prefer its original title (The Earthworm Gods), The Conqueror Worms is a staple for those who readily consume contemporary horror fiction, particularly, as Brian insists, to be read on a rainy day.