What is it about zombies that has caught the contemporary horror fan’s imagination? Sure, they are pretty nasty with all that brain eating and shambling about making the place look really untidy, and I bet they pong pretty bad too, but on the other hand they ain’t too bright and are pretty easy to kill. We get a lot of zombie fiction submitted to the Hothouse for review. and if we are being honest, much of it riffs rather too much off George A Romero’s films, so it was with a degree of nervousness that we opened up Zombie Bites the follow up to last year’s Dracula’s Midnight Snacks vampire anthology from our friends at the Spooky Isles and Red Rattle Press.
I needn’t have worried, the 19 tales chosen by Spooky Isles editor David Saunderson from stories submitted by readers go beyond the holed up in a bunker landscape of the average zombie story, to explore some of the less expected ramifications of the zombie apocalypse, along with a couple of deviations into apocalypses historical.
So taking the history first: Bills of Mortality, Wages of Sin by Jonathan Kaneko-James takes us back to the days of the European witch craze, with added walkers and demons; Anne O’Regan’s Deviants looks at the monastic response while in Toothache by KA Garner Nazis caught in a sandwich between the advancing allies and the living dead have to make a very specific trade off.
As with Dracula’s Midnight Snacks the more contemporary stories take an eclectic path. Matt Barton’s The Beautiful Game takes a look at how much more fun the Premier League would be with zombie teams; KA Garner’s Treacle examines the possible criminal permutations of a more intimate zombie human relationship through the medium of a police interview; Kate Dixon’s The Cellar shows why you should never trust squirrels and Howard Jackson’s A Window and a Meeting Room presents the true horror of being stuck in the office.
Overall Zombie Bites is an entertaining anthology that takes zombie fiction to some new and unexpected places. My particular favourite was the Zombie Call Centre by Brain James Lane, a highly stressful but essential environment for the low waged in the coming zombie apocalypse.
An original and often very funny collection of zombie shorts I give Zombie Bites a 555/666.
Zombie Bites is now available as a paperback from Red Rattle Books for £7.99.
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