Written by Eric S. Brown
Published by Permuted Press
Publication Date: 2009
Format: B&W – 262 pages
I have always considered myself a thorough person; when I receive a book to review I always read it twice before sitting down at my computer to write the review for it. Well, I’m on my fifth reading of Season of Rot and I had to tell myself (quite sternly) to “sit down and write the damn review, then you can go back to reading it again.” It’s that good; I don’t want to talk about how good it is I just want to read it over and over again.
Season of Rot is a collection of five zombie novellas by highly prolific author Eric S. Brown. Mr. Brown has a slew of notches in his zombie belt including Cobble, Madman’s Dreams, Unabridged Unabashed and Undead the best of Eric S. Brown (which features FORTY-TWO tales of gory zombie goodness!) But I digress; I must tell you about Season of Rot if I am ever to return to reading it.
Each of the five stories featured in Season of Rot all have a few things in common. Hordes of walking undead are battling against rag-tag groups of survivors in all five featured stories. Each starts off by grabbing you tight and once Mr. Brown is sure he has your attention he really starts to have some fun. Every story has twists and turns amongst the graphic zombie violence, giving the entire collection a page turning intensity. That is were the similarities end. Each of the five is unique in the cause of the plague of undead that is decimating the cast of characters in each. Viruses, strange alien energy waves, and bites from armies of rats raise the dead and propel these brutal novellas forward at a break-neck pace.
As an unabashed fan and writer of brutal horror myself, I can’t imagine what kind of dreams Mr. Brown tries to sleep through to write apocalyptic horror as descriptive and terrifying as this. I imagine his insomnia is our (as fans of horror fiction) gain as each well crafted tale is more intense and violent than the last. I love the gory little details Mr. Brown throws in to give any given scene something extra to squirm about. The example that comes most vividly to mind is the zombie tied to a post and used as target practice / training for soldiers in the civil war era “Dead West” dripping gore onto the field as the soldiers walk away from it. Season of Rot is zombie fiction how it should be, harrowing and violent, graphic and gripping.
The opening title story tells of a group of human survivors running out of supplies in an abandoned hospital surrounded by an army of hungry zombies. They constantly search communication channels for other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, finally finding a mysterious man that claims he can offer more than the group can ask. By the time I realized what was going on I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading if I wanted to.
The second story “The Queen” features rotting undead capable of thought and organization reeking havoc on the living humans. Mr. Brown ties several plot lines together in this quick paced story of survival from the mountains to the ocean.
In “The Wave” a blast of alien energy slams the planet Earth into apocalypse in the blink of an eye. The energy wave devastates communications world wide and begins turning people into ravenous crazies. A secret government bunker protects a group of survivors against ever more horrible twists until a fittingly brilliant ending.
I know I’m not alone in thinking “Dead West” is a rowdy and wild zombie tale (told freshly after the end of the Civil War) because Post Mortem Studios is doing a comic book series based on it.
The last (and my personal favorite) “The Rats” has so many twists and so much great bloody action you might end up dizzy by the end. The idea behind this one made me hungry for more of this particular tale, demons and zombies is right up my alley.
When I hear the phrase “Eldritch Horrors” I think of H.P Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, and August Derleth. When someone mentions “psychological horror” I picture Alfred Hitchcock smiling like a smug sociopath. From this day forward when someone says the phrase “Zombie Fiction” Eric S. Brown will be among the first three names that stumble forward. (David Dunwoody and Zombie Zak are the other two, for those of you that can’t handle not knowing.)
There is your review, now I’m climbing back in my tomb and reading Season of Rot again.
Available at AMAZON
Available at Permuted Press