Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review: Abominations

Rebecca Brock, RLB, 2007

I should begin with a word of explanation as to why I'm reviewing a self-published collection here, which - according to NecroScope's official guidelines - is something to be avoided. So here it is:

Rebecca Brock gives good zombie.

Having recently read two cracking zombie tales by Brock - 'Night Shift' (The Best of All Flesh) and 'Junebug' (History is Dead) - I felt that even a self-published collection of this author's work was likely to be a reasonably safe investment. And I'm pleased to report that my hunch proved correct.

Abominations collects eleven short fiction reprints - most, though not all of them, zombie-related - plus one novel excerpt. All are engaging and entertaining, and Brock displays a keen understanding of the human condition (including aspects that we might prefer not to address). Also, in a genre where we've come to expect 'sharp shock' endings, Brock is refreshingly skilled at the 'deceptively soft' ending; we see the inevitable approaching from a fair distance, but Brock's understated concluding lines impart a sense of disquiet that remains long after the book is laid aside.

To sum up, I really enjoyed Abominations. True, the publication could have done with some more attention to formatting and editing (which is something even professional presses overlook occasionally); but, overall, this is an extremely enjoyable collection, and one that left me looking forward to reading more from Rebecca Brock.

Abominations is available through Amazon, in print or e-format. Go buy it. That is all.

Review: Dead or Alive

William Harms, Absolute Tyrant Publishers, 2010

Arizona 1889: two desperate brothers have pulled off a bloody stagecoach robbery, and think their troubled past is behind them. But a horror from the region's tribal past has been unearthed, and - as a terrifying sickness sweeps through the local township - the Smith brothers find themselves fighting for their lives against against a horde of the hungry dead...

Dead or Alive is the debut novel of William Harms, whose previous publishing credits include the acclaimed vampire-themed graphic novel, Impaler. There's quite a bit to like about Dead or Alive: the characters are all well-realised (if generally unlikeable), and the plot trots along at a good pace. Oh, and there's plenty of brutal zombie action for the gorehounds. My only gripe is that Harm's obvious talent for dialogue doesn't extend to the prose (which is pretty turgid in places). If you can get past this, however, then Dead or Alive offers a fun, by-the-numbers, zombie/western romp that should appeal to zombie obsessives. And possibly cowboys.