About a year back, I reviewed Night Shade's The Living Dead, and proclaimed it the best zombie anthology I'd ever read (HorrorScope review here). Well, there's a new anthology due in September that actually surpasses The Living Dead - and it's The Living Dead 2!
I just want to take a moment to emphasise what an amazing achievement this is: where the original anthology comprised reprints of classic zombie tales, thereby guaranteeing a top-quality publication, The Living Dead 2 includes only original and recently-published work. Editor John Joseph Adams (who also compiled The Living Dead) demonstrates a brilliant understanding of exactly what makes a damn fine zombie tale, and deserves major kudos for the same.
As with its predecessor, TLD2 includes contributions from a veritable Who's Who of zombie fiction, including Robert Kirkman, Cherie Priest, Mira Grant, David Wellington, Jonathan Maberry, Carrie Ryan and John Skipp, among many, many others. The tales cover a range of themes, with plenty of new takes on familiar tropes, and all are of a standard that prevents me from singling out any particular favourites.
Having said that, I must make mention of one particular tale - S. G. Browne's 'Zombie Gigolo' - which, in a subgenre that has become progressively darker and more serious over the past few years, provides a joyfully disgusting reminder that zombies can sometimes just be fun. A warning, though: this story is far, far sicker than it sounds.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that The Living Dead 2, and all who contributed to her, will be be well-represented across the various genre literature awards over the next year. In the meantime, zombie afficianados should place this publication at the very top of their Want List, above firearms, bottled water, and chainsaws.