(Cross-posted from the Frida Fantastic book blog)
Hungry For You is a horror short story collection that explores the links between desire and decay through tales of zombie romance. The POV character is either a zombie, or someone who is attracted to one—so while readers may be experiencing zombie fatigue, A. M. Harte injects new life into the material. There isn’t just one type of zombie in this book. It takes a more general approach as it covers some people who are not traditional zombies, but exhibit the same bodily experiences of addiction and deterioration. All the characters are sympathetic individuals, no matter how many fingernails and ears fall off, and no matter what they hunger for.
I really enjoyed this collection. It’s engaging and heart-wrenching all throughout, and I finished it in one sitting. The simultaneous themes of passion and destruction are unique, resulting in some chilling prose that straddle the darkness between the two:
[“It hurts,” she moaned, clutching at her side where I’d sunk my teeth into one of the love handles she so hated. The memory made my gums tingle. I took a step closer, could feel the growing hunger, the excitement, the urgency to eat and eat before her flesh went off.]
The stories that stood out for me were the title story “Hungry for You”, and “Dead Man’s Rose”—which are respectively about a female police sergeant with an unusual zombie victim, and a young wife dealing with an abusive relationship. About the former, it takes some serious skill to write zombies as attractive beings while maintaining them as rotting corpses. It’s infinitely twisted and awesome. Although the subject matter in “Dead Man’s Rose” isn’t new (young wife has creepy husband; young wife is stuck in a house and creepy things happen), it’s written with such a touching sadness that it affected me emotionally like no similar story has.
I was hoping that the stories would add to a greater overarching theme, but they don’t. They could be read in any order and it wouldn’t affect your experience of this collection. While every word is absorbing, the stories feel more like samplers of bigger tales, so some ideas could be explored further.
Some of the characters could be fleshed out more in terms of personality and background—while they’re all in different states of rotting and non-rotting, there were some that I could only remember as hetereosexual and in their 20’s or early 30’s. Due to the similarity of subject matter and not-as-defined characters, there are a few stories that aren’t as memorable. But really, these are just my thoughts on how a great 4-star anthology could become an even better 5-star book.
Hungry For You is a captivating read. Although I felt like some of the stories could be expanded, every single one was emotionally moving, and I suspect that I’ll be re-reading several. If you’re interested in highly original zombie stories, or exploring the dark side of passion, I recommend this book. Reading the sample will give you a good idea if these stories will tug at your heartstrings. They certainly tugged mine, and I’m very interested in reading more books by this author.
Note: A free review copy was provided by the author.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)