If you’ve visited the “About” page on WillHull.com you’ve probably noticed that I enjoy reading horror novels. In particular novels about zombies, apocalyptic scenarios and the breakdown of society. I absolutely love Brian Keene’s The Rising and City of the Dead series as well as his Hammelin’s Revenge zombies in Dead Sea. Rhiannon Frater is an author whom I found while reading about Brian Keene on a Web search and is equally as talented.
First, if you haven’t read anything from these authors, you need to stop what you are doing immediately and get your copy of their books. They are amazing.
That being said, on with the review. Rhiannon Frater at the time of the writing of these books was an independent author who self-published each book. Since this time, she is now an author under TOR publishers and will re-release this series after reworking it. The cover for the first book under TOR is already posted on Ms. Frater’s blog.
Ms. Frater “provides a fresh, female perspective to the zombie apocalypse.” She dives into the emotions of the characters and really gives perspective throughout each story of what each main character is going through. The story is mostly about two women, Katie and Jenni. Katie is a powerful lawyer who loses her wife to the apocalypse and then is rescued by a person in a truck with a German Shepard coming home from the veterinarian’s office. The driver of the truck is almost immediately turned via a bite and then Katie ventures on. She finds Jenni running out of her house away from her zombified and formerly abusive husband who she found that morning feasting on her youngest child, a toddler. She manages to escape through the help of her first born son, Mikey, who turns to defend his mother and faces his father; like several times before. Only this time, his father isn’t alive. Mikey is then turned as well. Jenni jumps in the truck with Katie after being dazed by the entire affair. Their adventure begins here.
The story, beginning in a big Texas city ends up in a quaint West Texas town where the city was working to revitalize its “main street” or old town area. Katie and Jenni arrive after a few near skirmishes with the undead and meet Travis and Juan. Both men are working on the revitalization project and convert their energies building a perimeter that later becomes a fort for those who are uninfected.
The second book takes place where the first one leaves off and it concentrates on the community that the little downtown fort builds for itself. Many go out on scavenging parties to bring resources to the fort and defenses come together.
Finally erecting some semblance of civilization, they fort is confronted with a group of bandits who have been abducting females in the area (from those places holding out for help) who are vestiges of former criminal/redneck families in the area. Addicted to meth, many of the bandits do horrible things to those they abduct and kill. The safe haven of the fort is threatened and those in the fort come up with a plan to defend themselves.
Not wanting to give away too much, I will stop here with the second book and begin discussion of the third. The final installment of the trilogy is the best of the bunch. Katie, it turns out is a bi-sexual and winds up pregnant. Some people in the fort think she is irresponsible for bringing a child into such chaos, but a part of this series plays on the theme of ensuring that humanity continues on and doesn’t die for the sake of the undead rising.
Within this book is a turning point in what author Max Brooks would call “World War Z.” The tipping point between the survival of humanity and that of the age of the zombie. Each is as gut wrenching as the next.
There are several climactic moments in this book. An escape from a mall, what I believe is an homage to George A. Romero a la 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, a duel, a power hungry State Senator who thinks it’s her duty to separate society into castes to jump start humanity again and much more.
Each of these books is filled with narrow escapes, action, romance, heroism, a quick visit to the hospital for supplies and much more. The story also features an introspective look into the philosophy behind philanthropy, rule of law, civilization, power, control, democracy (in its purest form at the level of the ancient city state), the role of the last hold-outs performing duties for a military that no longer exists, the impact of loss to the community that has already lost so much and how to handle the subsequent moments following a bite from the undead (both personally and as a community).
Rhiannon’s take on the issue goes beyond the surface, beyond the fact that the undead are rising. She focuses on humanity, love and all that is fundamental to being a human. She focuses on the question of how to rebuild society. For someone like me, it is a very engaging story, one that I thought about even when I wasn’t reading it. It was something that I never wanted to put down (Keene’s The Rising and City of the Dead also had the same effect on me).
This trilogy is one where you won’t be disappointed. Soon it will be re-released by TOR publishers and I want you to be ready for it when it does. I don’t normally talk about the books that I read, but this series is one that I can’t stop thinking about and I have a feeling, if you read them, you won’t either.
*Disclaimer: I was in no way prompted to speak on behalf of Rhiannon Frater, TOR publishers or Brian Keene. I am thoroughly impressed with their work and my experience. My opinion is my own and I have not been approached by any entity or party to discuss it.