The Living Dead

Tor. Aug. 2020. 656p. ISBN 9781250305121. $27.99. HORROR
Horror novelist and lifelong Romero fan Kraus (with Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water) “collaborated” with the late, great zombie filmmaker Romero to complete this epic work that incorporates “Easter eggs”’ from across Romero’s oeuvre. The novel spans from a few days before the start of the zombie apocalypse through the following 15 years. Drawing from Romero’s papers, interviews, films, and exhaustive research, and with his own storytelling prowess, Kraus completes a zombie tale for the ages. Written from multiple points of view and featuring a diverse cast of characters, this lengthy tome is made accessible via short chapters that keep the pace moving briskly. The zombies are terrifyingly realistic, but it is the well-developed human characters that readers will appreciate, particularly Etta Hoffmann, autistic researcher and archivist of the apocalypse. This is a rare gem of a story, one that pays homage to its varied source material across numerous films, books, comics, and more, while also standing on its own merits. Kraus’s extensive author’s note adds appeal.
VERDICT A true gift to horror fans. Pairs well with Nights of the Living Dead, edited by Romero and others, with appeal for fans of apocalyptic epics such as Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
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