I listened to this story as an audiobook, but I am purchasing print copies because it is a story that absolutely needs to be shared with some of my favourite people. I stumbled across The Fox while looking for some light entertainment, and by the time that I realized that this wasn’t it, I had been irrevocably sucked in. I’ve never fallen in love with characters the way I fell in love with Jahna, and especially, because the reader gets to view him through Jahna’s eyes, with Lovern. This is a wonderful blend of realism, history and heart-wrenching fantasy, a hauntingly-sweet, tragic story that allows you to feel like you are breathing in the sights and sounds that the narrator is experiencing, and makes you want to cling to each moment so that it endures. Ms. Radasky is a master at evoking a strong sense of attachment to all of her characters, including the modern day ones who play a lesser role in the tale. Even the minor characters come to life and I walked away from the story (still wiping the tears from my face) with the impression that I had new friends, lovers and family. I look forward to the author’s next book. I would recommend this story to anyone with a heart, and would rate this as one of my favourite books ever.
The problem with reviewing an anthology is that if it is well-assembled with a broad selection of styles and a variety of approaches, some of the stories will really grab you while some will only mildly entertain you. I gave the anthology a five star rating because from my perspective, all of the stories were well written and the full spectrum of the zombie horror sub-genre was addressed, but some of the stories did appeal to me more than others. I have no preference between the dumb shamblers and the smart fast zombies , but I do prefer a building of suspense, a focus on the human condition, and if it is appropriate to the particular story, an element of humour (I personally think zombies are hilarious). I know other lovers of the genre want instant action, in your face stories with lots of shock value and gore – not so much my cup of tea. However, this anthology has something for everyone.
Picking favourites is difficult for me, because several of the stories struck a chord with me, but there were a few that got me particularly excited.
Ooky by Matthew R. Davis – I loved this one for several reasons; it piqued my curiosity from the start and offered a quirky, sexy twist to the zombie story. It was funny enough to make me laugh out loud (that doesn’t happen often when I’m reading.)
Once More without Feelings by Joe Blevins – This one really captured that human condition element as well as the flavour of a different era. It also had a touch of humour.
The Hungriest Zombie by Jason Thacker – The way it read like a nature documentary was really clever, and once again, good dark humour.
There were a few others I have to commend for a good demonstration of sentiment and solid writing, including: Last Legacy by Amanda Larson, The Mission by Eric Pellerine, Zombie by Night by Aaron Phillips and Rude Awakening by David Maynard.
If you love zombies, you can’t go wrong by picking up this anthology.
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the idea of a mash-up, and I’d be lucky to rate a mash-up a two or three on that basis alone. I like my Austen pristine and unfouled by the undead. Shakespeare and Dickens had ghosts and don’t need zombies. The classics should remain classic. On the other hand I love the idea of fairy tales being presented with a much darker twist, especially after reading the more grim original versions of the Grimm Brothers and Tanith Lee’s gothic spin on things in her “Red as Blood” collection, many years ago. Besides, it’s not like they haven’t been warped in many other ways I’ve found much more difficult to stomach. I mean how many different versions of Cinderella, modern or medieval, are there out there exactly – everything from Ella Enchanted to Cinderelmo. It really can’t hurt to let horror enthusiasts have their go at it too (although I suppose you could say the same thing about “A Christmas Carol” – I don’t think there’s a bad sit-com out there that hasn’t mucked around with that plotline for their Christmas episode.)
Perhaps I was spoiled by reading Tanith Lee’s version of these tales, but when I read the first one, I was a little disappointed. No reflection on the writer’s skills, as the stories were well done, but it really was a simple matter of a zombie being substituted for the frog in the tale and otherwise it was essentially the same story. I was hoping that the theme of the story would be kept, but that the entire atmosphere of the story would change to reflect the horror aspect – which obviously wasn’t the writer’s intention. I still enjoyed the story, but it didn’t match my expectations, which I could also say about a couple of the other stories. The second story (as well as the majority of the others) was more to my liking – an additional twist to the tale with black humour and a modern spin. My favourite tale was the third, perhaps because of the extra eerie feel it had that I was looking for.
I liked all of the tales to varying degrees – most of the modernized ones had biting humour to them (pun intended), but I don’t think this collection quite won me over to the whole mash-up concept. The stories were fun with sufficient gore and action (check out Cindy Rallie), but I was hoping for something a little more jarring. Despite the changes, most of the stories still felt too familiar – then again, maybe I’ve been desensitized by too much zombie horror. If you are a mash-up fan with a fondness for zombies and fairy tales you will love this collection.
I have to excuse myself here because one of the stories in this anthology is mine – I won’t be reviewing my own work. But I was very excited to read this. I love two types of horror: horror mixed with hefty doses of dark humour and then seriously dark, dark horror. This anthology screamed an offering of the latter from the get-go; the intro supported this.
Chinked – by Aaron Garrison – This story immediately brought to mind “A Clockwork Orange” with disturbing but vivid imagery containing a great deal of contrast and focus on the senses.
30 Minutes or Less - by Matthew Williamson – I think fans of the “Dexter” series would enjoy this story. I especially liked its rather unpredictable ending.
Abraham of Harlon – by Harley Pitts – Who exactly is the bad guy here? Eventually, you’ll figure it out. An interesting story within a story.
The Caged Doll – by Adam Millard – A tale having a touch of “Saw” flavour, but with a surprising twist.
Candy Apple Red – by Rebecca Snow – An eerily fun story. It taps into some potent childhood fears and you are almost rooting for the bad guy here.
Detour – by Bennie L. Newsome – Great writing! For a newcomer, Bennie displays a lot of talent. I kept envisioning one of those classic slasher films as I read.
A Twisted Garden – by Joe DiBuduo and Kate Robinson – Historical horror with a new spin on a complex artist. I was intrigued the way the writers tied the painting to the story.
All Things Being Equal – by Ian Brazee-Cannon – A super creepy story. Evil truly has a voice in this one.
Red Badge – by John Lemut – I’m a big fan of Stephen Crane, but I found some of the sentences ran a little long, something I’m guilty of at times, and I had to reread segments as a result. If you like mob and military references, you should enjoy this.
Feeding The Hunger – by Suzanne Robb – This one really had the gore/ooky factor, and my skin was crawling by the end of the story.
Dear Susan – by Holly Day – A stalker tale with erotic elements. I think it really captured that feeling of a man trapped by his obsession and out of control because of it.
Rat Man – by Nicholas Conley – All I can say is ewwww. This story was exceptionally disturbing.
Eighteen – by Joseph Schwartz – This fella was as hateful as they get, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the end of the story.
This was a wonderful compilation of “nasty” stories, with a surprising amount of variety despite the common theme. It gets a big thumbs up from me.