Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Published by 23 House Publishing
There have been a lot of zombie-themed anthologies. And I do mean a lot. So whenever one comes across my desk, it is with no small amount of trepidation that I pick it up. With all that have come out over the past five years, some have been good, and some have been just god-awful. I’m happy to report that Dead Set is one of the good ones.
Separated into four sections, the stories in this book follow themes in the progression of the zombie apocalypse, which we all know is coming, right? Section one, “Origin,” contains only one story, but it’s a doozie. “Resurgam,” by Lisa Mannetti, kicks the collection off in the right way when it begins with a group of medical students working on a cadaver. Of course, then it sits up and starts taking bites out of people. The rest of the world goes quickly to hell after that. Following are sections titled “The Plague Begins,” “In Dubious Battle,” “Losing Ground,” and “And to the Dust Returneth,” each telling tales of the eventual fall of mankind to the rotting corpses.
None of the sections contain weak stories. Every story in this collection was chosen for some kind of merit, whether it be darkly humorous or horrifically poignant, there’s something for every zombie-lover to like. Of course, with a list of contributors that includes names like Harry Shannon, David Dunwoody, Bev Vincent, Nate Southard and Steven E. Wedel, what else would one expect? Still, there are a few stand-out stories. Calie Voorhis’ “Biting the Hand that Feeds You” is a haunting look from the point of view of someone bitten, and the thoughts that run through her mind as she turns. Rob Fox’s “Recess” is horrifically told about a child’s playground, and the appearance of the undead there. I got a chuckle out of Michelle McCrary’s “Pierre and Remy Hatch a Plan,” in which a couple of swamp-hoppers get gassed up and go on a half-formed adventure with disastrous results. And the dark humor of “Seminar Z” and “Only Nibble,” by J.L Comeau and Bob Nailor, respectively, make the reader almost feel guilty for laughing, but only almost. Even if the rest of the twenty stories were terrible, which they’re not, the ones listed above would make this anthology worth the price.
As I said before, there are no weak points to this book. If you like zombies, if you can’t get enough of the walking dead, and if you are looking for something that goes from day one to the final hours, Dead Set is worth a look.
4 1/2 out of 5
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