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THE LIVING DEAD

A blockbuster portrayal of the zombie apocalypse and a fitting tribute to the genre’s imaginative progenitor.

The last testament of the legendary filmmaker is a sprawling novel about the zombie apocalypse that dwarfs even his classic movie cycle.

Though this long-simmering novel was unfinished when Romero died in 2017, his estate turned its completion over to Kraus, an adept novelist and collaborator with Guillermo Del Toro. The result is a satisfying, terrifying chronicle of the zombie crisis that includes explosive set pieces and moving character beats in equal measure. Just before Halloween, the first cadaver appears in the lab of San Diego medical examiners Luis Acocella and Charlie Rutkowski, asking the pair “Shall we dance?” even as Charlie holds his heart in her hands. In rural Missouri, teenager Greer Morgan soon learns society’s rules have been drastically altered by the rise of the dead. The growing severity of the crisis is seen at a national television studio in Atlanta, where conceited anchor Chuck Corso finds the danger growing closer and closer. On the aircraft carrier USS Olympia, helmsman Karl Nishimura and pilot Jenny Pagán join forces when they’re trapped between the resurrected dead and the zealous chaplain convinced God wants him to lead a death cult. These harrowing survival stories are marked by cinematic spectacles—a bloody escape by jet fighter, a school shooting, and fragments told from the zombies’ point of view are among the memorable episodes—but Kraus injects a dramatic dose of human pathos into the mix as characters bond, fight for survival, and frequently die so that others may live. By the time these disparate characters converge in the last act after a significant time jump, readers will know them so well that each loss takes on more emotional weight. Less soapy than The Walking Dead and less inventive than Max Brooks’ World War Z, it’s still a spectacular horror epic laden with Romero’s signature shocks and censures of societal ills.

A blockbuster portrayal of the zombie apocalypse and a fitting tribute to the genre’s imaginative progenitor.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30512-1

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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THE GOD OF ENDINGS

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Following a vampire across more than 200 years, this novel considers “whether this world and life in it is a kindness or an unkindness, a blessing or a curse.”

At the age of 10, Anna faces illness and death daily as an epidemic sweeps through her town. After the deaths of her father and brother, and when she's at her sickest, her grandfather arrives. Just as she’s about to succumb to the illness that killed her whole family, he transforms her into a vampire like himself. When she asks him why he did it, he replies: “This world, my dear child, all of it, right to the very end if there is to be an end, is a gift. But it’s a gift few are strong enough to receive. I made a judgment that you might be among those strong few, that you might be better served on this side of things than the other. I thought you might find some use for the world, and it for you.” The years that follow are difficult and often wrought with loss for Anna. She lives many lives over the centuries and eventually takes on the name Collette LaSange, opening a French preschool in Millstream Hollow, New York. Chapters alternate between Anna’s life beginning in the 1830s and her current life in 1984 as Collette. Notable points of tension arise when Collette tries unsuccessfully to sate her hunger, which is becoming increasingly unbearable, and as her interest in the artistic growth of a student named Leo deepens. Through decadently vivid prose—which could have been streamlined at times—this hefty novel meditates on major themes such as life, love, and death with exceptional acumen. The final questions in the book—“How presumptuous is the gift of life? What arrogance is implicit in the act of love that calls another into existence?”—serve as an anchor to meditations on these themes found throughout.

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250856760

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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HIDDEN PICTURES

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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