Science Fiction / Horror
The Dead Walk Again!
Edited by: Vincent Sneed
Published By: Padwolf Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I rarely read books about the living dead. In fact, I hadnít read anything about zombies until I read Memories, Red and Wet, a short story by Christopher Welch that I found in issue # 10 of Dark Wisdom: The Magazine of Dark Fiction. The story was a zombieís view of his unfortunate circumstance of being a member of the living dead. It was intriguing and I enjoyed it immensely. This wet the appetite for more zombie stories and when The Dead Walk Again!: More Weird Tales of Zombies, Revenants & The Living Dead arrived in my mailbox, I couldnít wait to begin reading.
The Dead Walk Again! is the second anthology of zombie/living dead tales published by Padwolf Publishing. The introduction, 2 Dead 2 Walk by Laszlo Xalieri, was a tale written in the zombieís point of view. I enjoyed this tale as much as I did the one by Welch simply because of its originality. Most stories involving living dead are about how humanity views the living dead and their efforts to survive attacks by living dead. Itís refreshing to see someone go through the trouble of thinking about how it must feel to become a member of the living dead and what it is like for that individual after the turning has begun.
Of the twelve stories and one poemÖif thatís what you can call itÖamassed in this 257-page anthology, certain tales stood out for me. I already mentioned 2 Dead 2 Walk, a perfect story to use as an introduction Ė you canít help but want to read more after that tale. Laundry Day by Steven Roman is quite a surprising tale about a slouch of a man who has his first experience with the living dead at the Laundromat. Josh Kosinski is pretty much a slob with no friends who works as a mechanic and lives in his deceased motherís home. Reading Laundry Day, you are first repulsed by Josh, but eventually you begin to feel sorry for him and, just when you think that Josh is going to be the ultimate hero in this story, you realize that your first reaction to Josh was the correct one. As you arrive at the surprise ending, you begin to berate yourself when you realize that you should have seen this coming all along.
Married Alive by D.J. Kirkbride offers a different view of the living dead. Millie and Charlie are married barely a year when Millie begins to notice some odd behavior in her husband. He seems to be depressed, never moving from his seat in front of the television and barely speaking more than two words to her in her several attempts at conversation. Could it be that her husband has grown tired of her? Why did he leave his job? What was so fascinating about the television? And just what is that God-awful smell?! I loved this view of how someone might become a living dead. Once again, a writer has been creative enough to go outside the box and give us a view from inside a living deadís mind.
Zombie and Spice by Patrick Thomas is a part of Thomasí Department of Mystic Affairs series. Agent Karver, formerly the demon-possessed serial killer The Carver, has a very special mission this time around. He and his partner are about to make things right for the family of one of The Carverís former victims. Having written this tale in Agent Karverís point of view, Thomas was able to give the reader a full view of Karverís feelings as he meets the mother of one of his victims. The guilt he feels despite the fact that he wasnít in control when he killed the womanís daughter is palpable. His efforts to give the woman closure are admirable and the reader finds Karver to be a likable guy by the end of the storyÖa damaged and twisted guy, but still likable.
I found The Dead in their Masses, a novella by James Chambers, to be by far the most enjoyable story in the entire anthology. Being a sequel to The Dead Bear Witness, a novella I had never read, I was worried that I would feel lost when I began this story. I was happy to note that the author did everything he could to make certain that the reader was kept up to speed with what had happened in the previous tale. Who would have thought that I would have become so vested in a former criminalís outcome, but Chambers somehow made me care about former bank robber Cornell and his nurse companion Della. Again we have a new turn on the living dead. For some reason, the living dead now sprout eyes in places where they are injured. And it would appear that, this time around, the living dead are controlled by someone or something. I canít really say more without giving a great deal of the story away. James Chambersí writing is captivating and I found that once I had started reading The Dead in their Masses, I couldnít put the book down until I had completed the 66th and last page of the story.
Honorable mentions include Fast Eddieís Big Night Out by John L. French in which a former drug addict and ex-con manages to take down a drug kingpin even after he is murdered, A Large and Rattling Stick by C.J. Henderson in which a soda company goes a bit far in the name of profit, Of Cabbages and Kings by Nate Southard in which a survivor stumbles upon another survivor only to wish she had been devoured by a zombie, and Ragged Bones by Bruce Gehweiler in which the natives of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge raise the dead to raise a point.
Of all the stories in the anthology, two were rather forgettable Ė The Spare by Laszlo Xalieri (surprising since I so enjoyed the intro story he wrote) and Zombies on Broadway by Jack Dolphin (maybe the old world English turned me off a bit). The last entry in The Dead Walk Again! anthology is what I termed a supposed poem by Adam P. Knave entitled Ode to Brains. This is a poem written in zombie and therefore will not make any sense to any sane individual. Iím fairly certain that it was placed here to give the reader some light humor after reading all that horror. I know that it gave me a reason to chuckle.
My only real complaint with The Dead Walk Again! were the typos. Nothing can distract a reader more than excessive typographical errors. Despite the distraction, I loved the stories enough to ignore the mistakes for the most part. In fact, I would recommend The Dead Walk Again! to any fan of dark fiction. After reading The Dead Walk Again!, I feel that I have to get a hold of the original anthology so I can check out more tales of the living dead Ė Iím totally hooked!!