LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS BRYAN HALL'S CONTAINMENT ROOM 7
Bryan Hall’s Containment Room 7 takes us to the edge of space, where the DARC 12 practices research considered illegal/inhumane back on Earth. While studying a black hole, a dark, rocky mass comes through. After retrieving it, certain crew members begin to hear voices—voices that tell them to kill and promises of peace and joy. And what’s better, the dead come back as vicious, hateful creatures. As the story unfolds, the captured mass changes form, and we find that those initially entranced by the thing have been chosen to carry out the total destruction of the DARC 12 and its crew. And that’s not even all Mr. Hall’s novel has waiting for you.
Will the crew survive…?
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fast paced, fleshed out characters, and lots of gory action, CR7 should be on every zombie lover’s shelf. If you’ve played Dead Space, you will indeed find many similarities, though I do not think that this was intended. Unfortunately, I don’t think you could put zombies and other life forms in such a setting without breaking that stigma.
The editing, I felt was decent. I came across a few errors that caught my eye, but nothing too distracting. To me, the word “hellish” was used a bit too much as a descriptor. As well, the word “forwards” was used along with “forward.” That threw me off the first few times. Definitely one of the better-edited Permuted books out there, though.
I do have a few gripes. First and foremost, this book is meant to take place in the future, but the story doesn’t really feel too advanced. To me, it’s more told than showed. The main weapon used in CR7 is a repeater pistol, and it’s used an awful lot because of the numerous well-written action sequences. My question is: Where are all the other weapons? The laser guns? The multitudes of grenades or heat-seeking bullets? I mean, for such a huge ship so, so far from home, what would they have done if they’d run across a group of pirates? Or a hostile alien race? That said, it definitely makes things fun for the characters, which does set up some great scenes. I would have also liked to “hear” the voices certain characters did rather than being told the general idea of them. This would’ve given the book a little more depth.
CR7 is a great blend of sci-fi and horror. “Survival Horror” is the phrase that really comes to mind. This is a great debut novel. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading more of this author’s work.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS SOUL SURVIVORS: HOMETOWN TALES VOL. 1
Soul Survivors: Hometown Tales Vol. 1 is a gripping and quite creepy anthology. Each of these stories is a chilling representation of their crafter’s answer to a question most wouldn’t want to ask: What if it was just you, or a small collection of survivors, stuck in an apocalyptic scenario? Now this isn’t too unique an idea in and of itself, but the crew over at KnightWatch Press has chosen quite the roster for this anthology, and the talent within these pages will have you eagerly awaiting Vol. 2.
The first story, “Pretend Girlfriend,” by Jonathan Wood is by far one of my favorites. I really liked how the author’s protagonist humanized a particular zombie. I would love to see more stories like this, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more work from this author. Going home with the gold for this anthology is a writer I’ve known for years. Patrick D’Orazio’s “Love Thy Neighbor” is a true testament as to what the perfect short story is. This one an uncannily disturbing horror tale that has all the elements for a great read: an engaging, believable plot that has a real mean twist at the end and well fleshed-out characters. This story alone is worth dishing out the money for the anthology. And that’s not to take anything away from the other stories. There is honestly not one story in here that I didn’t like, but with every anthology there are some I like better than others. Honorable mentions go to Rebecca Besser, Sean T. Page, and Shells Walter. These stories stuck out the most to me other than the two I’d previously mentioned.
The editing is pretty tight for a small press, with only a few mistakes that I noticed. Nothing that will cause you to think twice or have to reread a section. One thing I don’t comment on often is a book’s cover, but I feel the need to say that I absolutely love this one. The gas mask and those creepy lenses: Perfect! To me, I think it complimented the overall dreary—but nonetheless fun as h***--atmosphere.
Typically, I read and review zombie novels and anthologies. Now, there is indeed a fair share of Johnny No-Pulses in here, but they didn’t come to the party alone. The last story is proof of that. Anyone in the mood for quality apocalyptic fiction might want to consider investing in this title. I really doubt you’d be disappointed.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS BEYOND THE BARRIERS BY TIMOTHY W LONG
Beyond the Barriers is by far not your avaerage zombie story. Mr. Long has created a new type of zombie: the ghoul. They are hungry and angry, and the way that they stalk their prey is equally as creepy as it is frightening. This alone makes the book worth reading. Not to mention their "special ability" to... well, I'll let you find that one out on your own.
But I digress. BTB is a solid story told in the first-person narrative. Erik, to me, seems like your everyday Joe that lives right up the street. He's not one of those survivalists that have been waiting for the apocalypse all their life, nor is he a man without training to survive such a scenerio. Ex-military, Erik knows how to handle himself. Throw in the smarta** attitude and flawed personality, and you have a very relatable character. Each character in this book has their own unique traits, and none of them are less than three-dimensional.
The opening scene read like the beginning of a Romero flick, and the rest did not disappoint. After Erik watches a pretty brutal news report, he immediately goes into SURVIVOR MODE, which, to him, means going to Wal-Mart and stock up on stuff he knew he should've had anyway. From there, chaos ensues. After his inevitable departure from the place where the prices are always dropping, Erik heads out to an old friend's cabin out in the mountains for a few months. Granted, this is not the first time such a quest has been trekked in this genre, I really enjoyed how these few months played out on on page. You learn a lot about Erik, a lot about his past. Very important part, I thought.
Eventually he heads back to town, unsure of what to expect, and here is where we find out about the ghouls. Man, I LOVED this concept and will not spoil any more than I already have about them. Erik meets up with a group of survivors back at the Wal-Mart and learns to adapt to their lifestyle; a lifestyle which includes canned dog food in the survivors' diet. The love interest in this book is a character I am eagerly waiting to read more about. A botched escape attempt to Portland lands Erik and his love interest back to the very same cabin he'd left not so long ago. It doesn't take too long, though, for things to fall downhill, which results with them having to leave and head out to Erik's old neighborhood, where he meets another group of survivors. That falls apart, at the hands of Erik himself, though. Did I mention I loved the flawed personality?
Okay, the whole traveling back to and from the cabin and back to his old neighborhood is a little redundant, but I think it does show how one can find comfort in the familiar and one's fear of the unknown, so I get it.
After the neighborhood encampment crumbles, the creepy parts really shine. Erik and a few others are actually captured by ghouls and are taken for prisoner. The rest, well, it's just darn good reading. This one ends on a cliffhanger, so be ready for the anticipation for the sequel.
I found this book to be a very interesting read, and it only took me three days to read it. There were a few things that bothered me, however. At one point, there seems to be confusion as to how long Erik had been out in the mountains. Eventually, he gets his hands on a SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). The character at one point refers to the weapon firing .223 rounds. In practical use, this weapon fires 5.56x45. It's wholly possible for the gun to fire the .223, but it would have been nice to know that the character knew that as well - especially because he's ex-military. As well, there were a few things that caught my eye as far as grammar and punctuation goes. For example: the use of the word Stryker; sometimes it's capitalized and sometimes it's not. Also, I would have liked to read more about Lee.
If you love zombies, and you don't mind quite a bit of originality, then this book is seriously for you.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS ACHERON BY BRYON MORRIGAN
First off, let me say that Acheron is not your typical zombie novel. Though there are zombies in it, they merely exist in the background, way back there. Instead, we are introduced to more… unusual creatures.
This is a story told through the first-person perspective from Captain Nate Leathers, who, while on a mission, is attacked by Iraqi insurgents. The story starts off at a great pace, and you really do get a feel for what life is like out there – which isn’t something you get that often with stories in this genre. After the attack, Leathers is captured. While in captivity, an event happens. You don’t get an explanation of this event right away, which gives a great sense of mystery as to what exactly is going on.
Eventually Nate escapes and is introduced to a different world; a world in which the dead walk and mysterious creatures/demons are running rampant, and in some cases, flying. One of my favorite parts of this story is when Muhammad comes into the picture. There is an obvious language barrier between the two, and how they get around it adds a nice touch. I truly wish that we could have seen more of him, but as it is, he only plays a small part in the grand scheme.
They find refuge in a newly built police station, where they meet a cast of other characters. Some are people from an archeological dig, some from the military, and quite a few Iraqis are being detained. And then you have a security force, which is a small group of men who have quite literally lost their minds. They think they are God’s soldiers, and that God kept them alive so that they could set things right, and they’re in charge. I found it hard to believe that when the crap hit the fan these men just decided to fight for God, but it really works out and adds a sort of tension that keeps you gripped, wanting to see what will happen next.
The author created a world within Leathers’ world, which really added depth. Tasked with the mission that could rid Earth of the walking dead, demons, and the green mist that has apparently brought them here, Leathers ventures to a place where his reality blends in with another. Whether it’s another dimension or simply an underground society of strange human-like creatures isn’t exactly explained. In fact, this story leaves a few things unexplained by the end, which in itself is one of the best cliffhangers I’ve read in quite some time. There will surely be a sequel, and I hope to find answers to some of my questions.
The author seems to have extensive knowledge with the military and Greek mythology, which to me, seems to be the main focus of the story. This is new to me, and I really enjoyed the change of atmosphere.
There is a lot that I like about Acheron, but I do have a few dislikes that really got to me. My main problem is that, at points, the tense shifts from past to present. That’s not a trait too uncommon when it comes to this type of story, but it’s not something I took too much of a liking to when it came to this. At one point, Leathers is describing an event between himself and another character and, in the middle of describing the scene, switches from past to present and finishes the scene out in present, as if he were talking right to the character as opposed to the reader. This didn’t happen entirely too much, and my main quirk is with that particular scene, but it distracted me from the story, and I had to reread some of these areas just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. This might not bother anyone else, but it did me.
Also, at times, it seemed that Leathers was more a man of inaction, which seems a bit odd for an Army captain, I felt. Sometimes is understandable, but I would have thought that, with such experience, a few scenes could have been handled with a fist rather than a voice.
The chapters are short, which speeds the pace up, but some of them could have been taken out and the story would have been just the same. As well, Acheron is divided into parts. Some of them felt unnecessary, put there just to be there. Again, not the biggest issue one could have with a book.
But even with these issues, I can honestly say that this is a really good book! When the sequel comes out, I will be reading it as well. Would I recommend Acheron? Yes. I think it’s a great example of expanding on the zombie genre.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS THE UNDEAD SITUATION BY ELOISE J. KNAPP
Cyrus V. Sinclair. The "V" stands for victorious!
Eloise J. Knapp has crafted one of the best zombie novels I have ever read. No heroes here. Well, so to speak.
Cyrus V. Sinclair isn't your "average" person, not by a long shot. He asks the questions many wouldn't want to during a zombie apocalypse. Is this person worth risking my life? Are YOU worth saving? Well, Cyrus has an answer, and he's not afraid to show it. No, this man isn't a cold-hearted serial killer, but he's sure going to let you know how he feels, whether verbally or by action...
And that's what I loved about this book. Call me crazy, but I think most - if not all - people would ask these questions, or possibly even react to such devestation in the ways that he does.
Eloise J. Knapp goes where not many dare to, and she's not afraid to delve into the human psyche some wish never existed. People are messed up. People hate, they kill, and they do many other things that most choose not to accept. That IS reality, and this book captures it perfectly.
Can you tell that I related to the character a bit? I find it very hard to relate to most characters within the books of this genre. I don't say that as a bad thing, I say it because the main character is flawed... very flawed. Not every shot hits its mark. Not every action causes the best reaction. Not every thought of negativity shows within his actions. To me, I felt as if Cyrus was molded into the caricature of what many of us have thought of but never wanted to explore. That demon inside that beckons to be awakened. That little voice that just needs a mic to be heard. Cyrus V. Sinclair is that voice.
Though our character has killed before the zombie apocalypse, the situations are justified within his perspective, and it's crafted quite well.
I can't honestly say that I found anything about this book to be unbelievable or far-fetched. Am I a sociopath? No. Does this book make it easy for you to see the world through a sociopath's eyes? Absolutely.
The action, at points, is nonstop. Very rarely do the characters catch a break, and during these breaks comes the character development. I wouldn't say that any of the main characters are flat or undeveloped. Each on has a personality of their own, and they're easy to recognize. Blaze, I felt, was very well fleshed out. You get a background of why she acts the way she does, and it fits. Gabe, well, I didn't too much like Gabe (though her presence was necessary), but I suspect she served exactly the purpose the author intended. With her, you actually see the human side of Cyrus, the part that second guesses on what is right and what is wrong. And, I absolutely loved how far Knapp went with Gabe's torment. When you read it, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. Epic.
I honestely can't find too much not to like about this story. There were very few grammatical errors, no inconsistencies that I came across, and nothing so surreal that it took away from my suspension of disbelief.
The fact that there is a sequel in the works has me chomping at the bit to read it. I would recommend this book for any fan of the genre. But be warned: Cyrus may hurt your feelings.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS PETER CLINES' EX-HEROES
Ex-Heroes is one of the best zombie books that I’ve ever read. This story is a great example of how you can cross genres and do it right. There have been many other “mashups” that were just plain bland, throwing in factors from two different elements just to do so. Ex-Heroes is not the case.
Peter Clines weaved, in my opinion, a very plausible apocalyptic scenario here. Granted, suspension of disbelief is tested greatly when it comes to zombies, but it runs the gamut with a plot such as this; where you have superheroes thrown into the mix. That said, I never once found this book to be unbelievable. The heroes are flawed. The humans are flawed. The best part, to me, is that the zombies are plentiful, but not the main focus. They exist in the background, which allows character development to be at the forefront. And, on top of that, dark humor is thrown in there (who’s killed which celebrity zombie), and it just adds to the vast pleasantries Ex-Heroes has to offer.
The plot is rather enjoyable. Humans are holding up in the Mount in the middle of the city, and the superheroes watch over them and do what they can to protect everyone, always thinking about the betterment of the majority instead of the minority. But this isn’t the only group of survivors. A local gang is expanding, and they want what’s within the Mount. This faction is led by a man who has a special power himself, and it is one for the books. I’ll not give that away, however. You’ll have to discover that treat on your own. One of the more enjoyable parts for me is the tension within the Mount. Not everyone enjoys having the superheroes around, and quite a few share their distaste.
Ex-Heroes reads more like Watchmen, with the jumping between past and present. This sets a good pace for the story. You get a few chapters of the present, then a first-person account from one of the heroes, and each tale told through the heroes’ perspectives provides you with the origin of their powers/abilities, as well as keeping a timeline, of sorts, of the zombie apocalypse as it begins.
The heroes are all drawn out vividly. You know exactly what they look like. But what’s more, each one is full of life — and human. They make mistakes, they have feelings. They’re not just perfect killing machines. My favorite character was Gorgon, a hero with vampire-like powers. I really enjoyed following his part of the story, which the plot seems to have the main focus on – though the story doesn’t follow his perspective much. It is indeed a grand cast of characters, and each one will be hard to forget.
The zombies in this story are called “exes,” and when I found out the origin of the Ex-virus, I was pleasantly surprised. I honestly didn’t see that one coming until a page or two before the grand reveal. Peter Clines went with originality with this one, and he did a superb job of achieving it.
There is quite a bit of action as well, and each scene is depicted as if you were actually watching it as a movie. From the actions to the trash talking, it is fun ride.
I would honestly recommend this book to anyone, not just fans of superheroes or zombies. It is rich with great character interactions and development, which we don’t always get to see in this genre. My only complaint is that I didn’t write it. So, if you’re in the mood for a page-turner, I’d buy this book.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS RHONNY REAPER'S ROADKILL CAFE
RHONNY REAPER’S ROADKILL CAFÉ is an amazing anthology published by KnightWatch Press. Who would have ever thought to have an anthology whose theme is strictly about dead meat on the side of the road? Just the idea itself deserves five stars.
That said, this book is filled with horrific, graphic, and disturbing stories, all of which are based around road kill. It starts off with US 20, written by David Naughton-Shires. This is a grand tale of how karma can be your worst enemy, no matter who you are. I really enjoyed how much the author built up his antagonist. Some people can never be satisfied… but then, others can…
Each and every story after was just as good. Stephen Dafoe’s “Pavement Meat” was probably one of the most gut-wrenching stories that I’ve read in a long, long time. The explicit detail he went into really had my stomach somersaulting. I almost couldn’t wait until it was done, just so I could catch my breath and forget about the hamburger I had eaten hours before.
Tonia Brown is a writer I know and have followed for quite some time, and her tale, “Waste Not, Want Not,” is one of her best stories yet!
“Playing Possum,” after conversing with the author, Stephanie Kincaid, is somewhat based on a true event, and it shows with how personal the story is.
Every story in this anthology is well worth the price of admission. And with the countless amounts of anthologies put out there by small and large presses, this one shines like a lump of gold in a bin of coal. Even Bigfoot makes an appearance, and he is crafted by the Bigfoot Guru himself, Mr. Eric S Brown.
I would recommend this anthology to any and every fan of horror. But let me warn you: You may never look at road kill the same. Hell, you may never look at that sizzling piece of meat between the two buttered buns from your favorite dining establishment the same again. Needless to say, if I ever find a Rhonny Reaper’s Roadkill Café in real life, I’ll be turning the other way and hightailing it to the closest police station or hospital or doctor.
There is something to be said about the originality of such an anthology as this. We are constantly drowned in a sea of paper in which lay the same stories, the same scenarios fleshed out by different authors and publishing houses… and this one stands tall over the competition. If “Soul Survivors: Hometown Tales” (KnightWatch Press’ second anthology that I know of) is any bit as good as this, the company will have to keep a close eye on their email account, as I will be submitting and submitting until I finally get in.
The only gripe I have with this book is that some of the stories, in my opinion, could have used a bit more editing for grammar and punctuation, BUT, this never affected the flow of the stories as I read them. You tend to notice certain things when you read as much as I do, and I thought I should mention that to be fair.
Go out and BUY THIS BOOK! If you don’t, you will never know the true meaning of road kill!
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS COMES THE DARK BY PATRICK D'ORAZIO
Great first book in a trilogy…
First off, let me say that I have read this book from the Kindle version, The Dark Trilogy. This one has been re-edited, so you will not see any complaints on the grammar or punctuation because I feel the editor did a great job.
That said, I must say that Patrick has created a most-believable story with Comes the Dark. You get thrown right into the mix with this. There is no buildup. There is no gallivanting around with explanations of who did what and why. It starts off after the initial infection, with the main character, Jeff, coming home to find his wife being devoured by their next door neighbor. Pretty intense beginning if you ask me. Now, I did find it a little painful that there wasn’t a vivid description of what happened to his children, but I understand that could be hard to read and hard to write. Children in apocalyptic settings are a bit of a sensitive subject for some or most. But I would have liked to have seen the confirmation of their deaths rather than be told about it. But that’s just me.
From there, Jeff proceeds to leave everything behind, including his wedding ring and a photo of his family. I’ve read some of the reviews for this book, and this particular part seems to get a little guff. I liked it. I mean, think about it. Would you really want to carry on in a zombie-filled world having the constant reminder of what had once been anywhere close by? Something that would constantly drive you that much deeper into depression? I wouldn’t. I believe that Jeff did this knowing that it would only be better. They could live on in his memories. And the fact that I could believe something like this from a character in a book says a lot on its own. Comes the Dark is rich with fleshed out characters. I really believe Jeff to be someone I know, and to get that feeling is a landmark not too many have accomplished.
Eventually, Jeff meets up with another resident of the neighborhood: a malnourished twenty-something named Megan. I really enjoyed her development. In the beginning, she is quiet, apprehensive, and quite emotional, but by the end, she really grows into herself, adjusting and adapting to the world around her.
For the most part, Comes the Dark is a journey. Two survivors searching for what to do next. They are neither adequately equipped nor mentally prepared for what lies ahead. Both make mistakes, which is a trait in a book I love. I don’t mind the perfect protagonists at all, but it makes them seem more human when they act and then react to their mistakes, learning in the process.
As I said: This is a journey. Jeff and Megan spend most of their time traveling. Occasionally they run into survivors, and as with nearly every book in the genre, some aren’t the friendly type. Jason and George, however, aren’t stone-cold wannabe killers, and their introduction caught me a bit off guard. Just when the stuff hits the fan and it appears that all is lost, they come in to save the day. And save the day they do.
The story ends on a cliffhanger, though I feel that it should have ended a few pages earlier with another scene. I will say this, though: the ending itself is appropriate in the fact that it sets up the sequel like a fine paved road.
I loved the character interactions in Comes the Dark. My only grief with them is that, at a few points, Jeff and Megan argue over the littlest things, and I got to read on and on about it. It serves as good development, in my opinion, but I could have done with just a bit less than I received.
Another thing that struck me as a little unbelievable was the fact that the van was still running by the end. I don’t own a van nor do I ever plan to, so I can’t base what I’m about to say with fact, only speculation. I imagine that after running down as many zombies as Jeff and Megan had, the van would be rendered useless, or at least in worse condition than what it was in. One more thing that bothered me was that the zombies were sometimes referred to as psychos. If it were done all in dialogue, I wouldn’t have minded: that would have been the character’s description. To me, psycho would lean more toward cognitive thought, which the zombies weren’t capable of. I do, however, love the fact that they were also referred to as infected. Zombies and infected can be the same thing, though some others might not feel the same way.
Overall, I say that Comes the Dark is a great addition to any zombie-lover’s collection. I’m already a fifth of the way through the sequel. It really is a page turner. I read this in two days. Though it isn’t the longest book out there, two days is quick for me. I loved it. This is really one of the most believable “real world situation” zombie books I’ve come across, and that alone should make it worth the read.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS CLYDE WOLFE'S DOWN DARKENED PATHS
DOWN DARKENED PATHS, by Clyde Wolfe, is an extraordinary collection of horror/fantasy tales. I couldn’t say one bad thing about this collection other than I want another. Mr. Wolfe has a tremendous vocabulary, and he executes each word, each sentence, with the prowess of a seasoned professional writer. Every story is wholly complete. Some of them had me checking my head, wondering how the spark for them had even been lit. He can take an ordinary, mundane topic, and put such a twist on it that it will practically blow your mind.
My favorite stories were “Scorned,” “No Place for Sentimentality,” “The Hunt,” and “Mogg-Wogg.” All the stories were GREAT, but these ones stood out the most to me.
One of the truly scariest stories for me was “A Scarecrow’s Dilemma.” I mean, this one really made me think. The antagonist is just a farmer who doesn’t like crows in his fields, but Mr. Wolfe added such a great twist by giving his scarecrow life. Let’s just say that I won’t be prodding any scarecrows soon. That’s for sure.
For the most part this is a horror collection, though there are some stories that have a heavy dose of fantasy in them. Some of the stories are short, really short. And then you have much lengthier, in-depth, tales, like “The Last Flight of the Medusa XI,” which is one of the pieces lathered with that great fantasy feel.
And for the zombie fanatic, such as myself, there are a few zombie tales in there. And they are completely satisfying reads.
Clyde Wolfe is indeed an author to keep your eye on. Soon he’ll be doing big things.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS KEVIN MILLIKIN'S THE REAL REASON ERIC S BROWN MISSED A DAY OF WRITING
Kevin Millikin has created a genuinely interesting piece of fan-fiction with “The Real Reason Eric S Brown Missed a Day of Writing.” Being a friend and fan of Eric, I couldn’t wait to read this, and Kevin was nice enough to let me have a copy.
Premise: Eric, author extraordinaire, wakes up to find that he has been captured by some very, very jealous creatures. They are envious of Eric’s new infatuation: Bigfoot, and do their best to bring Mr. Brown back into his old style of writing.
I won’t give the ending away, but I drew a smile on my face as I read it.
Barring a few mistakes, this was a well-written short story from a new author. It’s a quick read, but it is a solid story for anyone who is a fan of Eric S Brown or the genre he writes in, and is well worth the price of admission. Keep an eye out for Kevin Millikin, as I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS C DULANEY’S ROADS LESS TRAVELED: THE PLAN
ROADS LESS TRAVELED is the epitome of a great survival tale. It has its fair share of gore, violence, betrayal, and loss. Let’s not forget the zombies, either, because there are MANY of them, as well. It is an action-packed page turner that will have you condemning the thought of putting it
Our main protagonist in this tale is a woman named Kasey, and she is prepared for such a situation like the dead rising. She and her friend, Ben, have actually come up with a plan: The Plan. And it is through this plan that these survivors survive or live as long as they do. I found the one rule to this book was that if you didn’t follow The Plan, you would more than likely die – and a lot of people in fact do die; one way or the other. I believe this scenario to be wholly plausible with the times that we live in. Almost everyone knows what a zombie is, and it is completely feasible to have your own plan for when the dead rise, or let’s say when an economy crashes. So I think THE PLAN takes a very realistic approach to the zombie apocalypse and world we live in today.
The basic premise of this story is as follows: Ben, along with some friends, must venture from their college a few states away to West Virginia to meet up with Ben’s friend, Kasey – who is readying her house for the coming onslaught of the undead. They planned things out for something like this some time ago, and now they just need to follow it. There are of course problems along the way – not everything can go according to plan, especially in a world where it’s not just zombies you have to worry about: people who only endanger you and everyone around them, people who you’ll have to risk lives for, and people who just want you dead.
No, The Plan doesn’t break new bounds in the genre, but it sure takes the old Romero formula and spruces it up with intense action sequences and realistic character interactions. I really liked the fact that we have a strong lead protagonist being a female. It’s not often that you get to see this in a zombie story. And it worked out great.
The entire cast is fleshed out, each having their own individual personality that gives them life to the reader. There are some that you won’t like. There are some you’ll grow so attached to that when it is their turn to meet their maker, you don’t want to see them go. And the interactions between these people flow smoothly, and none seemed forced or just thrown in there to take up space. It works out like this because of several perspective changes, which equally move the story along and builds each character.
There were two parts in the book where it felt like the perspective changes were a bit rough, but it wasn’t anything to pull me away from the read.
This is the first installment of a planned trilogy, and I am looking forward to reading the rest.
Another great publication from Permuted Press. And with this one, you’ll definitely Enjoy the Apocalypse.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS HUMAgeddon BY ROBERT BUTT AND SCOTT TWELLS.
HUMAgeddon, written by Robert Butt and illustrated by Scott Twells, is a phenomenal read! I had the luxury of ordering this for my Kindle today for only $1.50! That was a steal. Print copies, available through Comixpress, are only $4.99, and I’ll be ordering a copy of that, as well.
The premise for this story is that years after the zombie apocalypse, the undead rule the land, and they live like they had when they were alive. The humans are living on islands far away, almost shunned from the lands they’d once ruled. This is a complete role-reversal from your typical zombie stories, and I loved it. It was almost as if the humans were portrayed as the monsters instead of the undead, and not in your typical kill/rape/betrayal of your own kind way we’re all used to.
But, as expected, the power begins to shift again, and the undead have to defend their families and loved ones from hordes of the living. It blew my mind to read a story as original as this, and quite refreshing to see some new talent surfacing over at KnightWatch Press. This is promised to be a series of 4-6 comics, and I’ll be purchasing every one of them.
For anyone looking for a break from the norm, something with fantastic visuals and intense dialogue, do yourself a favor and pick this comic up. You won’t regret it.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS THE HOLE BY AARON ROSS POWELL
THE HOLE by AARON ROSS POWELL is an intriguing tale of discovery set in a post-apocalyptic world where a plague has swept through, ostensibly killing everyone except for the main characters, Elliot and Evajean. I was hooked from the first sentence. As I read, I learned things as the protagonists did, which drew me even more to the story. This book is a mystery up until the very end, and as I said before, it is this way for the characters as well.
THE HOLE is somewhat reminiscent of some Stephen King books. I’m not talking about the story itself, rather, how everything unfolds. There is a strong supernatural element to this book. If it weren’t written so well I might have found myself not believing it, but as the case is, POWELL is an excellent writer and ties everything in nicely. As well, it has a strong religious undertone that you won’t find out about until near the end. In no way, shape or form, is this book preaching anything, so don’t let that deter you. It just sets the pace for an entertaining read.
While this is a slower-paced book, POWELL sucks you in through his strong character development. Both are well-thought out, and are the epitome “your average person.” But, as you read along, you’ll find out that these two aren’t so average, and the best part is, they don’t even know it, either. As the events unfold, their trek across a nation filled with religious zealots and “crazies” and eventually unconventional monsters, you gradually are able to grasp the goings on. When said trek was first brought up it really felt pushed, and I found myself asking why these people would travel halfway across the country for reasons which they can’t even explain. But as you read on, you’ll find that there is a reason, and you’ll do this alongside Elliot and Evajean.
I found the crazies in this book to be very haunting, as they weren’t what I expected. Some are feral, violent beings that wish to bring only pain and despair, while others give chase to the two survivors only to stop and speak gibberish. While this may sound strange (and it does), these are a separate “faction” of crazies. In the end we find out that the plague that wasn’t a plague at all, rather, an event so well-thought out that all the gibberish and encounters with non-violent crazies actually makes sense.
I’m not a fan of spoilers so I won’t go into great detail, but THE HOLE is best described as a post-apocalyptic world where two people learn that they are more than what they think. That they have a purpose unbeknownst to them until the very end. And the end is where all the answers are. I was left satisfied, and I will definitely be looking for more work from this author.
I read the Permuted Press re-release, so it doesn’t have too many grammatical errors some of the old reviews mention. Only a few - and it in no way detracts from the story. My only gripe with this book is that I felt the two people who eventually helped Elliot and Evajean along the way were throwaway characters. Not that this is entirely a bad thing, but I felt that if they’d survived a bit longer they could have added even more to the story than they already had. But I suspect their purpose was only to move things along, not to prematurely give away the ending. And that is what I feel this story was about; the ending.
While this isn’t your typical apocalyptic scenario, POWELL breaks the bounds with THE HOLE and its characters. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fulfilling, mind-jarring read.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS DOWN THE ROAD: THE FALL OF AUSTIN BY BOWIE IIBARRA
DOWN THE ROAD: THE FALL OF AUSTIN is admittedly the first book I’ve read from this author. IBARRA seems to have a firm grasp on telling a tale set in an apocalyptic setting. From what I can tell, he is a fan of zombies (and the culture surrounding them) to the core. He paints pictures of gore and death like a macabre mastermind that’s been tutored by the malevolent gods in fables I’ve read as a child.
THE FALL OF AUSTIN is a fast-paced read, relentless in its assault on all things good. As with most tales of the genre, it isn’t just the zombies you have to worry about. Humans, in this work, are far more deranged than any singular undead. In all honesty, most of the militant characters did not resonate well with me. I do find it difficult that right of the jump we have two squads warring with each other. I get the whole competitive atmosphere, but find it a little hard to believe that, in a situation such as the one presented, they wouldn’t just work together – it’s what they were trained to do, I imagine. But, just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. It worked really well for this story.
This is probably one of the darkest reads I’ve encountered in awhile. There are good characters in the book – some you might not know until the very end – but it is dominated by those who have strayed off the beaten path, embracing the demon(s) inside. Each character is drawn out magnificently, created with time and care so that you know exactly why they do what they do, even if you (or I) don’t agree with it.
The one major problem that I found with this book (and it doesn’t occur a lot, just enough for me to mention) is the fact that, in certain heated moments, we are taken to a flashback of a few characters’ pasts. The author does this to help us ascertain the knowledge of why said character(s) are doing what they are doing, or about to be doing, but I found that these few times it occurred, detracted a bit from the story. Not so much that it ruined anything. No. More so that it bogged the scene down, taking away from what was currently happening or about to happen. As I stated before, this only happens a few times, so it’s not a deal-killer in anyway, just a personal thought.
All in all, I would say that this is a spectacular read, surrounding more on the dark side of humanity, though there are indeed moments where you do see the best in people. And I think it worked out really well in the end. It was professionally written, and definitely deserving to be read by any fan of the genre. I will be looking forward to reading more from this author.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS PATRICK RUTIGLIANO'S BLACK CORNERS OF A BLOOD-RED ROOM
First off let me start by saying that I have a job where I find myself with 10-15 minutes of free time almost every hour in the work day. I like to read, and I find that I am fortunate to have such breaks. I finished this book in less than three days because of this.
Each story in MR. RUTIGLIANO’S collection is scary in its own right. And most of them are difficult to predict, if any at all. I found that each one was crafted with time and love, and that the author has an extensive vocabulary that he uses well.
One might think that with such a diverse collection of tales that there would be some that are very similar, but that is not the case with BLACK CORNERS OF A BLOOD-RED ROOM. Not at all. Each one has its own theme, its own feel; and while the overall theme is indeed horror, I found that there were other genres blended in with a few of the stories, making for well-enjoyed ride.
While I liked some more than others, I can honestly say that I did not find one story in here that I didn’t like. Most are short. Very short. And each one is complete, not having any plot-holes or continuity issues, which is very hard to attain with such a short word count.
I would like to see some of the author’s longer works, if there are any. And I wouldn’t mind reading another collection from him, if one ever does come out. The visuals he creates in such short reads is a testament to his dedication of the craft and his love of horror.
For those who are looking for a little help with their writing, maybe just trying to find their muse for the short story, this collection will serve as a base to learn on. This is not amateur writing in any way. And for those looking for something to fill your downtime, I would definitely recommend this for you, too.
What I like about short stories compared to novels is that you don’t need to make a commitment. You can put this book down and pick it back up a day/week/month later and not have missed out on anything.
This book goes highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of short stories or anthologies.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS TONY MONCHINSKI'S EDEN 2: RESURRECTION
EDEN 3: RESURRECTION is the third installment of the EDEN TRILOGY, but it can almost be considered a stand-alone novel. A few of the characters from the other books do make appearances in this one, but for the most part they are in the backdrop. Instead this story mainly revolves around a group of young adults who venture out into the Wastelands for the first time – one of which has ties with a former cast member in the previous novels, which is the cause for their departure in the first place.
We are also introduced to those that survive out in the Wastelands. Some might call them savages, as they like to play a particular game that usually doesn’t end well for the opposing team, but their lifestyle offers a different take on survival in the world of EDEN. These people have chosen solitude over safety, and for very understandable reasons, in my opinion. You see, it isn’t the zombies that are feared the most in EDEN 3 – in fact, they are a minor threat compared to most other things. One of which is the atmosphere. It seems to be every survivor’s worst enemy. It is teeming with radiation from reactors that have no one left to maintain them. And this severely impacts each person. Most die much younger than they would have in our world. Not only that; the radiation causes birth defects and a higher rate of miscarriages. And birth defects aren’t exactly wanted; or accepted, for that matter – which you will find is cause for this faction’s choice of living on their own. They stand by their beliefs, whether right or wrong, and that is something I found myself admiring.
Now, we’ve got a zombie book with some zombies, two sets of humans (or monsters, depending on how you look at it), and a deadly atmosphere. How could things get more interesting? What about those born and raised in areas where the radiation is more prevalent? What would happen to them, especially in a land with no laws? Well, you mix two parts of said radiation, one part sadistic madness, and three parts eye-gouging detail, you will get MONCHINSKI’S mutants. MONCHINSKI draws these guys so well with his words that it’s like they practically leap out of the pages and into your worst nightmare. He shows, in vivid detail, that they are a group you would never want to encounter. Somewhat reminiscent to the “The Hills Have Eyes,” these mutants show no love for the living, and they spread their hate and distaste more so than the zombies. That alone makes this book worth reading. Well done. I got more than I expected with this little addition.
It’s not often that you read a book in this genre and not find a bunch of zombies in it, but EDEN 3 is one of these, and it works so well. While there are shambling/booking undead in this installment, the main focus is on the human cast – which is set into three different groups, one of which I have not mentioned because they only play a small role in the grand scheme of things for this novel. But fret not – they are there for a purpose. And for those who’ve read the first two books, you will find closure for a few familiar faces. It was somewhat sad in the end, I thought. But in a world like this, there’s not much you could ask for.
There are moments when you will find yourself questioning which type of survivor you would want to be. Though it is evident which side is the “good guys,” MONCHINSKI allows an understanding of why those in the Wastelands live the way that they do. And I found myself rooting for them just as much as I did the group of young adults set on a journey into such a horrific environment.
There is a fair share of bloodshed and violence, and it isn’t just thrown in there. Each death is felt, each cut going that much deeper than the one before. And when the characters start dying off, you begin to wonder who it is that will survive, if anyone at all. It makes for page turning madness.
And this brings me to the end. It is abrupt, and it stops where you might not expect it to. I was actually left with my jaw open, a little upset. But never fear; TONY MONCHINSKI isn’t through with this series yet. It was originally promised as a trilogy, but three books weren’t enough to contain this saga. There will be a fourth. And now I’m chomping at the bit until I can pick up right where I left off.
In closing, I found this book to be more of a study of the human condition as it pertains to the world the author has created rather than a gory undead bloodfest. At one point there is an examination of how the past could relate to cast’s present, bringing a philosophical edge that drives you that much further into the events of this apocalyptic setting. There are many references to songs and books that most of us can relate to, giving it a somewhat contemporary feel, and at the same time making each character closer to being someone we could possibly know in real life. I would recommend any and all fans of the genre to grab a bite of EDEN 3, though it may leave you a little hungry at the end…
…But keep in mind that the game seems to have just begun. I expect that the fourth will be one that is not to be missed.
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEWS REBECCA BESSER'S UNDEAD DRIVE-THRU
First off, let me say this: I love the cover. They say that you shouldn’t judge a book on this alone, but it always helps to have something scream out to the consumer; in this case, it’s be a zombie handing out fresh brains in a plastic bag. Kudos go to JUSTIN T. COONS, the illustrator. Not only did he do a bang-up job on the cover, but there are pictures at the beginning of each chapter in this novella, which I found to be an added treat. As the reader, I can appreciate the hard work and time spent to bring this story and its illustrations to life.
Now on to the story…
UNDEAD DRIVE-THRU is not your average zombie tale, by any means. No, this isn’t your typical Zombie Apocalypse tale of survivors running the gamut in a world infested with the living dead. Rather, this is a tale that takes place in a small town with a small cast of characters – mainly teenagers – that we come to know well throughout the story, and up until the end, there is only one zombie.
The premise is that Betty Jones has a husband who is battling an addiction. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Sam Jones is addicted to flesh and blood and brains. You see, Sam Jones is a zombie. Though I’ll not reveal how he became so, I will tell you this: it is something that Betty Jones cannot or will not accept. She cages Sam up like the ravenous beast he is…
Enter the teenagers.
Two teenage girls, Kyndra and Colleen, are looking for work so that they can save up for an apartment of their own. Finding an ad in the paper, they discover an employment opportunity by means of working in a diner. They find themselves in the middle of nowhere, standing in front of a building in shambles. The one who runs this place calls herself: “Aunt-B,” better known as Betty Jones – the wife of the zombie.
They are introduced to two teenage boys. John is the troubled nephew of Aunt-B, who decides to work with his aunt instead of spending time in the slammer. Jose is a helping hand, set with the task of helping remodel the old diner.
And while all this happens, there is a zombie – Sam – caged up in a house behind the diner. And Sam doesn’t like being trapped, and gets out several times. One time, though, he escapes to the diner (clever zombie) and finds two of the teenagers, who aren’t even on the clock. Well, this is where the fun picks up. Aunt-B and her nephew discover Sam’s absence and find him just in time to save the two teens.
From here the madness begins, and all four teenagers find themselves right in the middle of one woman’s sick delusions of living with her zombie husband. She doesn’t o kill Sam, or to have him killed. She loves him, even beyond “’til death do us part.” And this doesn’t work out so well for the teenagers.
John, her nephew, is forced to play evil sidekick and basically kidnap his newfound acquaintances under the orders of Aunt-B, while having to keep their actions secret. We then see John in an internal struggle over what he should do.
Now, I won’t give away the ending, but it gets bloody. It gets gory. And eventually we see just how far one woman will go to keep her undead husband well.
To summarize, UNDEAD DRIVE-THRU is not an action-packed story. It is more of a study of madness, and at the same time it shows us the bonds between friends, both new and old. The characters are drawn out pretty well for such a short story (92 pages). I found myself rooting for some while cursing at others. The writing is professional, and not once did I have to reread any parts. UNDEAD DRIVE-THRU is a page turner that, to me, is reminiscent to good B-Rated 80s horror flicks. There are some clichés with the characters and plot, though they are put in there tastefully, making the read that much more fun. I would highly recommend to any zombie lover.
It’s not always about the apocalypse, and REBECCA BESSER proves that with her debut novella.