This horror novel sees a trio of friends embark on a road trip during a zombie apocalypse.
In Tucson, Arizona, Desré Dupuy is an Air Force veteran in love with Blake Edwards, a musicology student. Blake’s best friend, Granville Preston Gordon, is a former Navy MP, and together they form the Trio de Dio. They share a weekly movie night featuring zombie flicks. Though Gran asserts that “all of life is in those movies,” Des is sick of the cheesy Hollywood productions. She convinces her friends to celebrate the birthday of Marie Laveaux, a 19th-century Condomblé priestess and Acadian heroine. They create an altar, burn their troubles (like Blake’s eviction notice) in an abalone shell, and dance to banda music. Despite being enlightened, Gran insists that a zombie apocalypse is near because he dreamed it—and his dreams always come true. The next morning, a horrible stench assaults the Trio. Outside the crummy apartment complex, the dead have indeed risen. So begins the Trio’s journey, taking them through Texas and Louisiana and toward Des’ relatives in South Carolina, who live on the “Fish-Camp” reservation. Along the way, natural disasters strike and new friends pop up. In this series opener, Curaçao (Walker, 2018), Edwards (Strange Diary Days, 2018), and debut author Kalkwarf enter the well-trod genre with narrative guns blazing. They give longtime fans exactly what they crave with descriptions like “part of her face was gone, blown away, from the looks of it,” and “all her internal organs were missing. It was just a body cavity…spine showing through.” The overall tone is light, sharpened with self-awareness, as in the line “A fire axe, just waiting there for me like it had been drawn in by some supernatural narrator.” Sometimes the tendency to tell rather than show infects the proceedings, as with a rant about Des’ awful neighbor, Dino. But the theme that family is important—and that all humans are related—is an excellent one. The notion that zombies represent a modern-day Ragnarok, humanity’s natural end, is as captivating as it is terrifying.
Like many impressive zombie narratives, this tale wrestles with humans’ deeper connection to the undead.