In this debut horror fantasy, bioterrorism lowers a blanket of darkness and scarcity on the world, but one woman may be capable of returning the light.
Chinese terrorist Huo Zhu Zheng released F8 in 2029. The bioweapon destroyed human and animal populations, national infrastructures, and resources worldwide —though Zheng did inoculate his own people from the sickness. Microbiologist Ruby Spencer’s unique blood made her immune to F8. She and Dr. Emory Bradshaw worked toward a cure. Then F8 mutated in animal carcasses to become ZOM-B, which spread to humans and reanimated them after death. Now, in 2032, Ruby is part of President Ava Newton’s Special Warfare Council. But the scientist would like nothing more than to spend time with her husband, Clay, and their new baby, Gabby. Instead, Ruby and Clay must visit Taiwan for a week to study captive zombies to please the president. The couple try to think of it as a late honeymoon; China and Taiwan don’t suffer the privations (food, water, and electricity rationing) that most of the world does. Awaiting them at the American Consulate is Lt. Col. Quinton “Ox” Oxford. Too bad the embittered lifelong Marine has decided to deliver Ruby and the secrets contained in her blood to President Vladimir Volkov of Russia. This twisted, sprawling tale from Ash wouldn’t be complete without a typhoon and a container ship full of zombies bearing down on her heroes’ location. The author’s bleak future is captured by this passage: “In the U.S., receiving government approval for air travel was as common as seeing a flock of birds, a herd of cattle, or a nest of rabbits. It just didn’t happen.” And while the zombie action is exceptional, readers will likely find themselves rooting for the messy demise of Ox, whose lechery boils from the page. At one point, he thinks: “The only thing better than stripping clothes off a woman was stripping her of everything she loved.” In addition, Ash offers an epic, bloodborne twist in the novel’s final third that should surprise horror fans. Ruby becomes someone not to be trifled with; a meaty sequel would be welcome.
A smart, gory, and sleazy zombiefest.