A small-town sheriff is the first to discover the incredible truth behind a zombie plague in Chatman’s debut horror novel.
In Ghostwood, West Virginia, widowed Navy SEAL–turned-sheriff Thomas Pratt is distracted from his difficulty parenting his teenage son and daughter by a more urgent crisis. People are being bitten by grotesque, antlike insects and quickly turning into “Spewers”—superstrong and superfast undead who vomit more bugs and spread the contagion. They can be destroyed, though—mainly with gunshots to the head. (Oddly, no one uses the Z-word to describe the infected.) Within days, society collapses as the plague reaches Washington, D.C., but battle-hardened Thomas and other select, die-hard Ghostwood citizens persist—along with savvy street-gang members, military holdouts, and survivalists. Readers are tipped off from the start that a cabal of scientists is behind the coordinated onslaught of insects and infected humans—and when Thomas actually meets the conspirators, they’re revealed to have highly unusual origins. The author doles out numerous scenes of gruesome violence, including torture. However, he stops short of the grindhouse-level gore that one often sees in the zombie subgenre (no chainsaw-wielding cheerleaders here). Indeed, characters reverently invoke God and eschew profane language in favor of soldierly lingo: “We will infiltrate at first light to reduce the chances of enemy contact due to the deadly effect the sun has on them. Two teams, Alpha and Bravo team.” Still, an infusion of sci-fi villainy shifts this material from a tense, straightforward George A. Romero–style tone into comic-book territory, with superbeings laying smack downs on one another amid heroic and vainglorious firefights. The finale is sequel-friendly, indeed. (Not to be confused with 2013’s The Spread, a different zombie-themed novel by Michelle Kilmer and Rebecca Hansen.)
Zombies and alien fiends attack in force in this Michael Bay–style actioner.