Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor)

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Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor)

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Category: Horror
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Melony Sanders
Reviewed by Melony Sanders
Summary: A great selection of stories of the undead with just one or two duds.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 512 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 978-0749952532

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Anyone who enjoys a good horror story and likes zombie films will love this book, which is a collection of nineteen short stories by a variety of authors. I have to admit that I have only heard of one of the authors before - Mike Carey, who writes the Felix Castor novels - but I am not an avid reader of the genre and don't doubt that the authors will be known to readers more familiar with it. Despite this unfamiliarity, I thoroughly enjoyed most of the stories, with just one or two seemingly not up to scratch.

Collections of short stories are much under-estimated these days - the general feeling seems to be that if the author is any good, they will write a full length novel. I don't agree with this. There are many novels that are based on good ideas, but really should have been kept much shorter than they are. A good short story still has a beginning, middle and end, it is just that they get to the point much more quickly and, provided that they are well-written, can therefore draw the reader in after just a couple of pages. Thankfully, this collection of short stories has been well put together by editor Christopher Golden, and although the book is nearly 500 pages long, it is ideal for dipping in and out of.

There are two stories that particularly stand out for me. The first is What Maisie Knew, by David Liss. This is about a man who owns a zombie (known as a reanimate), called Maisie, who appears to know something potentially dangerous about her owner. He tries to keep her quiet, but on occasion, during moments of pain or orgasm, she starts to blurt out her thoughts. I loved the way the author told the story, because we don't know until a way into the story exactly what it is that Maisie knows, and then the owner has to come up with a way to keep her quiet. The descriptions of Maisie and her mannerisms are excellent and the story is taut and thrilling.

The second is Family Business by Jonathan Maberry. This is one of the longest stories in the book, and tells the story of two brothers who live in a world where zombies co-exist, albeit in different realms. Nevertheless, zombies can be destroyed and the elder brother, Tom, is a zombie hunter who wants to teach the 'business' to younger brother, Benny. Tom has ideas about how the zombies should be killed, however, something that Benny initially can't understand. This is a really touching story that makes zombies out to be something to pity, rather than fear, and the ending is absolutely cracking. I should have seen it coming, but I didn't, and so it was all the more thrilling.

I personally enjoyed another story - Second Wind by Mike Carey, simply because the character was familiar to me. Mike Carey writes a series of books about an exorcist called Felix Castor, who has a number of supernatural friends, including a zombie - who happens to be the narrator of the short story in this volume. Having read a couple of the Felix Castor novels, I thoroughly enjoyed finding out about his zombie friend. It isn't, however, necessary for anyone to have read the Castor novels - it is just an added advantage if you have.

There are a couple of weak links, although they may appeal to other people. The first story, 'Lazarus' by John Connolly, didn't really appeal to me. The language used is very sparse and there is very much a Bible story feel about it that felt somehow preachy. It isn't a dreadful story, it just didn't draw me in as much as the others. Another, 'Shooting Pool', by John R Lansdale, was a good story, but I couldn't understand why it was included in the anthology at all - there is a death, but there is no mention of the undead or anything supernatural. However, it is still a good read, so I look upon it as an extra. Those looking for something more gory may well be disappointed though.

There is a huge variety of stories with very different feels - both because of the writing style and the story. Most of them are about zombies, or zombie-like creatures known by other names, living alongside humans in some kind of post-apocalyptic world. One has a very supernatural feel to it, with an element of voodoo, because it is set in New Orleans. Another is written in the form of the narrator's Twitter account. This is a new format to me and I doubted that it would work well as a story; nevertheless, it did work very well and is actually very thrilling towards the end. Author Joe Hill should be commended for telling a great story in a very different style from the usual short story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this anthology. There are a couple of stories that I didn't like as much as the others, but this is really to be expected in a selection of short stories, and in any case, none of them were terrible. The majority of stories were really very well-written and well-told and, although exploring death, gore and rotting flesh, they are more thrilling than nasty. I think that even someone who doesn't like to watch horror could handle reading these stories. If you have even the slightest interest in horror, I highly recommend this anthology.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you enjoy this type of fiction, you will also like The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey.

Buy Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Editor) at Amazon.com.


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