Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: My Zombie Valentine

Katie MacAlister, Angie Fox, Marianne Mancusi & Lisa Cach, 2010, Scribo Books Australia

Tired of boyfriends who drain you dry? Sick of guys who stay out all night howling at the moon? You can do better. Some men want you not only for your body, but your brains. Especially your brains...

My Zombie Valentine comprises four novellas, each penned by one of the authors named above, and it should come as no surprise - given the blurb above, not to mention the title - that all four fall squarely into the 'paranormal romance' genre. Overall, I found all four pieces enjoyable (despite them being very obviously pitched at a female readership, which I am not); MacAlister's 'Bring Out Your Dead' revolves around a unique counsellor unwillingly drafted to care for a rather unusual child, while dealing with various Undead Issues of her own; Fox's 'Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo' is the tale of a practitioner/shopkeeper who utilises her faith to secure a lover; Mancusi's 'Zombiewood Confidential' gives us movie stars and romance against the backdrop of a Romeroesque uprising; and Cach's 'Every Part of You' pits our female protagonist against a madman and his army of...well, you can guess.

There's nothing particularly deep or gory to be found here, just light, entertaining fluff, mostly well-written and, yes, pleasingly sexy (definitely no 'ick' factor). If you enjoy paranormal romance in general, it's likely you'll enjoy the contents of this anthology; if head-shots and flesheating is more your thing, possibly not so much.

Review: Dead City

Joe McKinney, Pinnacle Books, 2006 (reissued 2010)

In the wake of a series of cataclysmic hurricanes, a deadly virus has spread along the Texas Gulf Coast. The dead are rising, with an insatiable hunger for human flesh, and police officer Eddie Huston must fight off the savage hordes in a race to find and save his family. But time is running out, and Eddie doesn't yet realise the price he may have to pay for failure...

I must admit to being absolutely delighted to see Joe McKinney's Dead City being reissued - with one sequel recently released and another two forthcoming, plus a (be warned, somewhat spoiler-ish) related short tale in the recent anthology, The Living Dead 2 - as this is a novel that (in my opinion) lead the initial 'boom' not merely in zomfic, but in really good zomfic, when it first appeared back in 2006.

The plot is a simple one, with our protagonist struggling to survive in a city overrun by the living dead; pure Romero, although the stakes are raised above the same-old by the specific nature of Eddie's 'quest' - to not merely survive, but to track down his young family and get them to safety. Factor in a sympathetic, though pleasingly imperfect protagonist, and McKinney's concise and descriptive prose, and you have what can best be described as a 'page-turner'.

Dead City is a damned good read, and one guaranteed to please a range of readers well beyond the zomfic fans. Again, it's fantastic to see another bona fide classic of the genre re-issued (Walter Greatshell's Xombies is another recent example) for the benefit of those who have only come lately to the growing zomfic horde, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading the sequels, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters, and The Zombie King.

Dead City is available in Australia through Penguin Books.