Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: The Zombie Handbook

An Essential Guide to Zombies and, More Importantly, How to Avoid Them

Dr. Robert Curran, 2011, Barrons

The Zombie Handbook is a handsomely-bound 'zombie primer' aimed squarely at readers with only a basic knowledge of the subject matter, but which should nonetheless be of interest to more serious collectors of zombie lore. Focusing almost exclusively upon traditional voodoo zombies - as well as mummies, golems, and revenants from various folklores - this volume provides some fascinating information on the subject, although it must be said that most of the material herein is explored in greater depth and detail in Curran's earlier publication, Zombies: a Field Guide to the Walking Dead. Nonetheless, The Zombie Handbook is a lovely publication in its own right - hardbacked, and beautifully illustrated - and certainly worth both reading and owning.

Review: The Gathering Dead

Stephen Knight, 2011, Severed Press

The zombie Apocalypse has begun, and Major Cordell McDaniels is given the most important mission of his career: lead a Special Forces team into New York to rescue the one man who can cure the reanimation virus. But as a violent storm renders airborne extraction impossible, the team finds itself trapped and facing not merely a growing horde of undead citizens, but also the zombified members of another Special Ops. team...who appear to have retained their military skills...

The Gathering Dead is a full-blown military action/horror novel that hits the ground running from page one, and doesn't let up for a moment. While there's perhaps not as much attention paid to individual characterisation as in other recent, similarly-themed novels (such as Tooth & Nail), Knight does a terrific job of balancing action and tight plotting against a vast amount of military detail and terminology, which - in less competent hands - could well have disrupted the flow of the tale. Some nicely original touches - such as the possibility of 'muscle memory' being retained by certain individuals after zombification - further contribute to a highly engrossing and enjoyable narrative that should please most fans of the zombie/military subgenre.