Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Monster Book of Zombies, My Review

This is a big book and it took me a while but it was worth it as it has many great stories. Most of the authors are English and that gives the whole a fresh and different background, a departure of other anthologies I've read before; this feeling was increased by the fact that most of the stories were written a very long time ago, a century in some cases! That's also very cool because the pieces tend to be more atmospheric and there's nothing better than creepy horror. The settings of the stories vary greatly, from old cemeteries, to elementary schools, to forests that hide ancient megaliths; some are humorous, others sad, there's even romance and a whole lot of dark, twisted irony. What they all have in common, wait for it... is zombies!! So, now you know, the secret's out.

Seriously, it kind of kills a bit of the thrill when you're in the middle of a story wandering what's going to happen and you remember, Oh, right. It's a zombie. But then again, that's what you were looking for, a bunch of zombie stories, otherwise why would you buy a zombie anthology, right?

Now, it could take a while to review each one of the stories since there are more than twenty five but I'll review the first, two of my favorite ones, and of course, Lovecraft's.

The book opens with a bang, a great story by Clive Backer, SEX, DEATH AND STARSHINE, that reflects the life of long dead actors who perform in and out of stage, as they work for a company run by their living counterparts. Originally written in 1984, its poignant humor fits in perfectly with the cannibalistic appetite we show for Hollywood star's rumors and fall downs. It's funny, intriguing, and scary, all together in a great package that makes you feel so good about having bought the book in the first place.

One of my favorite stories was Charles L. Grant's QUIETLY NOW. This one was originally published in 1981; it tells the story of a writer who's been trying to finish a book his editor has been waiting for more time than it was supposed to. The author befriends a few boys from his building and gets too involved when other kids from the school close by start disappearing. I loved the mysterious atmosphere Grant creates when there are several instances of persecution that take place in the woods; you can just feel the tree branches snapping under your feet and the scary monster looking at you hidden from the bushes to the left. So freaky.

My definite outstanding pick would have to be for Basil Copper's THE GREY HOUSE. There are so many great stories in the anthology that the idea of picking just two simply tortured me but, alas, there has to be a winner and Copper's 1966 story made it easy to choose the top spot. It goes to describe the life of a couple who have just bought a house in the english country side; a house with a very bad reputation, mind you. The previous owner lived there almost a century before and slaughtered half of the town and all of his servants in an intent to win eternal life that seems to have evade him. However, the feeling in the house is very dark and haunting, particularly at night, when strange noises from the woods carry on to the house and scare the poor wife half out of her wits; meanwhile the husband seems to be possessed by a desire to renovate the house to its previous glory when the old master was in charge. This story creeps under your skin and leaves you sleeping with the lights on.

Ok, the last of the bunch is Lovecraft's REANIMATOR. I know Lovecraft has a huge fan base; I, for one, love his stories but in this case the story was written very early on his career and only published after his death, when he had achieved fame. The story lacks the classic stamp of his future work and feels a little disjointed and like it could've used a bit of editing before publishing. It isn't at par with what we are used to read from his twisted mind but, in any case, it's interesting. The narration starts with the ramblings of a Dr. who seems to be on the brink of insanity as he recollects how his assistant died and who he suspects to be the murderer. The character is a man with no scrupulous that won't allow something as small as ethics get in his way to become the medical community's star child by achieving to reanimate corpses and halt altogether the process of dying. Attaboy!

There you go, a few of the most representative short stories, and not so short, in this amazing galore of zombie love. Get you newly furbished zombie apocalypse bunker and have a happy comfy reading!

October Paranormal Reading Challenge


Shilpa said...

Sounds good but I am not a big fan of zombies. They totally spook me out! Great review!

Gina said...

Would believe I'm completely terrified of zombies? I know, right? So crazy, I'm deadly afraid of them but I can't stop reading about them, and watching zombie movies, too. I'm a bit coo, coo. XD