I tried desperately to find a flaw in this book. Really, I did. Not so I could be nit-picky in my review, but so I could turn around and give a reason, any reason, for me to not say “I wish I’d written it”.
This is the book many post-apoc authors wish they’d written.
Keep in mind, folks, this is a debut novel.
Author Shana Festa is well known in the horror circuit for her excellent work on the Bookie Monster, as well as blogging and being a good egg in general. Given the amount she reads, it’s perhaps not surprising that she’d be able to turn her hand to the written word, and to zombie fiction in particular.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of strong female lead characters. Forgive me, then, for being predisposed towards Emma, Time of Death’s protagonist and all-round buttock-thwacker.
She is a refreshing lead in a genre where the trope is for women to be weak, mere bit-part players in an alpha male hip-thrusting competition to zombie glory. Don’t get me wrong; Emma has her weak moments. This makes her more real to the imagination, and makes her eminently more readable than a battle-hardened post-Middle East war veteran that just happens to be on home soil when the world explodes. Emma cries (a lot) and relies heavily on her husband Jake for mental and physical stability. But where a man is lacking, her pet dog Daphne steps up to the mark (and God help anyone that tries to hurt the dog).
The story in ToD flows well. We’re straight in to the action (well, right after a Code Brown, which made me want to bring up a little bit of dinner). Festa’s prose is second to none. There is a lot less dialogue in this book than I see in many books of zombie fiction. This is perhaps accurate; who’s going to want to gossip when the world ends. She also avoids needless filler; where there needs to be a passage of time, it is there. We don’t get a fortnight of laundry and horizon-spotting.
The gore is there – in spades. It’s close to the bone, and more than once I had to close my eyes to shake off the pictures being put in to my brain. There is skill in the action crafted in ToD and I didn’t want to put this book down. It has a neat balance between civilian and military conflict, and I wasn’t overloaded with military jargon, which I feel happens in some similar books. I read it in two swift sittings, though the book perhaps deserves more time and effort – so I got it on Audible, too.
Well worth the buy and read – consider me a fan. Can’t wait for the next instalment which, thankfully for me, will be out before Christmas!
I can’t wait to see where Emma and her group head to next.
5 easy stars.
Review by Dawn “Warren Fielding” Peers, author of Great Bitten: Outbreak, available now from Permuted Press http://smarturl.it/GreatBitten and Legacy of Darkness http://smarturl.it/GracesOne