I first became a fan of Eric Brown’s work while reading Season of Rot. The action was so vivid, the violence so graphic, and the sweet despair almost palatable, how could a horror fiend such as I resist? I enjoyed Season of Rot enough to check out more of Mr. Brown’s work. I scoured the web for his short stories, finding them all gory little jewels of zombie action. Mr. Brown is an incredible talent and I could never tire of reading his work. All that being said, I can honestly say I laughed manically when I found out I was getting to review “World War of the Dead”.
I dove in head first reading first the introduction (by Taylor Kent, of Snark Infested Waters fame) and a brief introduction by Mr. Brown himself. Now this is the first I learned of the true scope of Mr. Brown’s vision for World War of the Dead, not just another fantastic zombie novel but a “Christian Zombie Novel.” I must admit here that I do not share any religious beliefs with Mr. Brown and have never been a fan of any kind of religion over all. You may ask if that in any way changes my feelings about World War of the Dead, and my answer would be “hell no.” If a story catches me and takes me somewhere brutal and dark while I read it then I don’t care if the author is purple-skinned and worshiping mounted road kill. Mr. Brown is a good Christian man that writes horror the way the good Christian lads in As I Lay Dying play heavy metal, with steadfast conviction and pure, brutal talent.
There is a strong message of hope in the story but, trust me; this ain’t your grand pappy’s bible study. The story itself is a tale of good versus evil on an apocalyptic scale; we’re talking demons rising against God with the earth going to the winner.
The story offers an alternate outcome to World War II when in mid-battle all hell breaks loose due to a strange blue lightning flashing across the sky. In its wake the dead start to attack the living, forcing German and American forces alike first to their knees and then to their graves. A few soldiers on both sides of the war begin to exhibit what can only be referred to as “super powers” even though the real origin story of their new found powers is much more intense than common comic book fodder. The action starts immediately and intensely from the first page with battle scenes described from c**kpits of fighter planes and deep in the trenches alike.
From there come the running, ravenous dead. The zombie attacks here are classic Eric S. Brown and as so, some of the best in the biz but the focus here is broader than a simple zombie story (with larger than life characters and an epic showdown you feel building from about the halfway point) and they aren’t as rampant as they are in many of Mr. Brown’s other stories. The dead are snarling beasts that never tire and manage to spread across the globe feasting on humans regardless of their wartime allegiances. Views are offered world wide from the humans facing the walking dead from America to Africa and the stories are bleak.
However, here lies the one major difference between World War of the Dead and any other zombie novel I’ve read, the strong sense of despair isn’t always there. As some of the main characters realize the scope of the madness and their destiny in it they find hope in their savior, Jesus Christ. Now this hope isn’t the normal fleeting and rare hope that is common in zombie fiction. It is a strong, confident hope that nearly bleeds from the pages leading to the earth shaking climax. As odd as it sounds World War of the Dead really is a work of zombie fiction that not only entertains the hell out of you but leaves you feeling positive and hungry for more. Basically, if a godless heathen like me enjoyed it this much; you should really check it out.
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