I vowed to start reviewing more horror novels in 2011 and boy have I been staying true to that promise!! I’m reading my 31st novel this year, and I also have Anything Horror writer Derek O’Brien reading like a demon!! But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all the full length novels and read something a little shorter and more casual. This past week I was lucky enough to read two such fun and light hearted books. The first, THE ZOMBIE HANDBOOK (2011), is a gorgeous looking coffee table book that sets out to historically explore real zombies and even gives the reader some true life stories.
THE ZOMBIE HANDBOOK (who’s complete title is THE ZOMBIE HANDBOOK: AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO ZOMBIES AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW TO AVOID THEM) is written by Dr. Robert Curran. Curran is no stranger to the supernatural having previously penned THE HANDBOOK OF ANGELS AND FALLEN ANGELS, THE WEREWOLF HANDBOOK, BIBLIO VAMPIRO (and vampire handbook), and THE GHOST HANDBOOK. Curran does an incredible amount of research into zombies and gives the reader an in-depth history of zombies and all the many incarnations zombies have taken over the years. He divides THE ZOMBIE HANDBOOK into the following chapters: “What is a Zombie,” “Types of Zombies,” “Zombie Tales,” and “Zombie Armies.” We get the expected discussion of voodoo zombies (in much detail) and I really enjoyed how Curran connected the voodoo zombies of Africa to the slaves brought to the Southern U.S. Great stuff.
But what I found most interesting was what Curran calls “perhaps one of the oldest forms of walking dead” stories, and it comes from Ireland!! The story involves the Marbh Bheo (the night-walking dead). These creatures often “roamed the roads at certain times of the year, sometimes to take revenge for old grievances.”
It’s nice to know my ancestors are steeped in zombie lore!!
THE ZOMBIE HANDBOOK is both a great and intelligent read that will give you some great background on zombies and some really fascinating true stories of real-life zombie incidences throughout history. It’s a solid, informative, and fun read.
Author: Dr. Robert Curran
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 5 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
The other book I read last week is the novella, THE MASK OF ROMEK by T.C. McQueen. THE MASK OF ROMEK follows John Henry Darrow, an immortal, who along with a group of other immortals battles the forces of evil in Arkham. McQueen sets his world in a Lovecraftian-influenced universe and does a great job capturing the feel of the Cthulhu mythos.
After being introduced to Darrow we then jump ahead to 2009 where Darrow’s friend, Dr. Marcus Lockhart, needs his help in figuring out why the Mesoamerican display being put together at Miskatonic University was ransacked and torn apart. They need to uncover who ransacked it and what they took before it’s too late (I bet it’s a mask!!). McQueen does a really nice job here unravelling the mystery as we’re introduced and get to know the main characters. McQueen’s writing style is both crisp and flows nicely and he effortlessly moves between describing the past and explaining what’s going on in the present.
I also really liked McQueen’s choice of writing THE MASK OF ROMEK in the style of a journal. This gives the novella an old noir detective story feel to it. Plus being written as a journal, we get lots of hints about other past cases Darrow worked on … cases I hope McQueen comes back to and examines closer.
McQueen has done a great job in his debut novella. I would love to see more of Darrow and Lockhart and would definitely love to read more about their supernatural adventures as they battle the Lovecraftian forces of evil. THE MASK OF ROMEK is a fun, fast read that leaves you wanting more. Nice job!!
Author: T.C. McQueen
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 2 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer