Category: Horror

Book Review: The Living Dead by George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus

Wow! I don’t think I could start this review any other way…just…WOW! This book is amazing, horrifying, terrifying, and oddly realistic (if you assume the zombie apocalypse is a real thing).

As most people know, George Romero was a genius and a visionary. What you may not know is that Daniel Kraus is, as well. Despite the fact that the two men only met once, long before this collaboration became a reality, it was written as a true meeting of the minds between the two. Romero left a partially completed manuscript; Kraus was asked to finish it. Instead of just using what he’d been given and finishing it however he wanted, Kraus spent a lot of time re-watching and reading everything by Romero he could track down. As new resources came to light, changes were made to the storyline. While adding his own artistic touches, Kraus went as far as possible in making sure that Romero’s original vision for the book still shone through. I can’t say enough positive things about the integrity with which Kraus tackled finishing this book, or about the truly impressive final product.

Now, a bit about the actual book: Yes, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Romero zombie novel. There are lots of zombies, and lots of gory, terrible things happen. However, there’s also plenty of character development along the way, as people cope with and adapt to the apocalypse. The story is told from multiple perspectives, with various different storylines that sometimes intersected, and sometimes went their own way. I enjoyed some characters more than others, but feel that everyone could find one (or more) to connect with as you read. Despite the fact that the plot is pretty much all action, all the time, there’s time to get to know the major players in the story, and come to appreciate their past experiences, personalities, and reactions to what is happening around them.

The Living Dead is so much more than a typical zombie horror novel. It’s also a commentary on the human condition, and speaks to actual issues that we’re facing today. Place yourself in the shoes of any character, and try to honestly evaluate what you’d do in that situation. Hopefully we can all walk away from this book with a desire to be better people.

Each individual storyline is compelling on its own, and is made even more so by its integration into overall plot. All the details are right, and the things that happen seem realistic given the situation. There’s a lot going on here, and I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers.

Suffice it to say that this book is truly a work of genius. I highly recommend it to any fans of horror, Romero, post-apocalyptic fiction, and anyone interested in a fresh perspective on human nature.

Five out of five chunks of sharp cheddar!

Book Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

“The Only Good Indians” is the ideal horror novel. It provides characters in which the reader can easily invest, who are then thrown into terrible danger from a paranormal (and very scary) source. What makes this one really stand out in the genre is the fact that it doesn’t follow the standard “band of buddies teams up to fight the evil entity” trope. Instead, the entity in question is targeting its victims for a very specific and logical reason. Also, each individual must figure out what’s going on and try to deal with it on his own. I very much appreciated this unique aspect of the story.

Another major point in the book’s favor is that, while the reader does feel sympathy for the targets, he/she can also understand the motivation behind the actions of the “villain”, and see that there is some degree of justification there. This leaves the reader torn, as you’ll have some degree of sympathy for both sides.

Another thing the author brings to the table is an impressively detailed look into the lives of the Blackfeet and (to a lesser extent) Crow people. I enjoyed learning about their everyday lives, their cultural identity, and the issues they sometimes encountered in integrating into “white” society.

Interestingly, parts of the book are written in second person, which only adds to the overall creepiness of the plot. This is a seldom used perspective, and is even more rarely handled well. The author utilizes this voice just the right amount, in just the right places, to ramp up the tension of the story.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention how much I loved Denorah. She is a minor player for much of the book, but she is a fabulous character who could absolutely carry her own spin-off story. I’d love to read about how her life plays out after the end of the plot of this book, and how what she’s learned affects her plans going forward.

Bravo to this new-to-me author for bringing me something truly new and original to read!

Five out of five chunks of extra-sharp cheddar!

Book Review: The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

This book sounded amazing when I first heard about it, and I was thrilled to win a copy through the Goodreads giveaway. If definitely didn’t disappoint!

The highlights:

1. The story: From the beginning, this book felt like an homage to the classic gothic tales I love so much! It has all the elements: the gloomy, creepy, castle, the mysterious family rumors, and that eerie sense that something is going on that neither the reader nor the heroine knows about. Plus, it’s just a fabulous story. I was instantly immersed in Bert’s world, and couldn’t wait to read more to see what happened next.

2. The way it differed from classic gothic fiction: No big romance, no hero riding to the rescue. Main character Bert (short for Alberta) is also the heroine, trying to save the day (for herself and others).

3. The setting: I enjoyed reading about the Alps, as well as Bert’s time in Italy. The Montebianco castle was almost a character by itself…it was so well described that I felt like I was walking the halls along with Bert, and the descriptions of the Alps and the local area were also very detailed and interesting.

4. The science: I won’t add any more to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that Bert learns some truly interesting things before the story ends!

5. The REALLY unexpected bits: Again, to avoid spoilers, I obviously can’t say what they are. Where one character ends up, plus the last few chapters, are very surprising. I always appreciate it when an author manages to include things that I truly wasn’t expecting, so KUDOS to Danielle Trussoni!

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and am very happy to add the author to my list of “must reads”!

Five out of five chunks of extra-sharp cheddar!