I’m lucky enough to have the same agent (the AMAZING Sara Crowe!) as Jonathan Maberry, so I couldn’t wait to read his latest book, DEAD OF NIGHT. Did I mention he’s featured in the upcoming History Channel Documentary, ZOMBIES: A LIVING HISTORY?
Pretty cool, eh?
Okay. I must admit, as much as I enjoy a good horror novel, I’ve read a few zombie yarns by other authors that left me…ahem…cold. The formulaic lab outbreak, the shambling hordes, the lone pack of stereotypical survivors, etc. Been there, done that.
Bought the (shredded, blood splattered) t-shirt.
Jonathan Maberry’s DEAD OF NIGHT, however, is a terrific departure from this formula. He injects the novel novel with all the elements I crave in a scary, hairy good book. DEAD OF NIGHT has it all. A compelling heroine. In your face action. Terrifying horror. And real literary heft. If you enjoyed the rich characterization in THE STAND, if you ate up the action and twists in THE WALKING DEAD, then you’ll love this book, too.
The term ‘roller-coaster ride’ gets thrown around a lot in reviews, but it’s truly apt for DEAD OF NIGHT. When the opening chapter starts off (with a bite, I might add), it’s a little like the hydraulic snap of the safety restraint on a coaster car.
Click…click…click...We come to know and care about the characters...Click…click…click…We’re afraid for Dez and JT…We need to see them through this.
At the top of the white knuckle climb, the bottom drops out and the plot roars into a frightening descent. Oh yes, there is blood and jagged teeth. But the most terrifying moments aren’t wrought from gore–Maberry infuses real fear into the narrative. Readers are pulled under the shivering skin, into the minds of his characters.
We’re Billy Trout, the calloused newshound. We are Volker, the doctor who releases hell on earth. Most of all, we are Dez, the last cop standing, the woman with her back against the wall. When she’s forced to shoot a lost zombie child, we feel the painful trigger squeeze. We know Dez’s bravado is “thin & fragile, nailed to the walls of her heart by rusty pins.”
“But here, for a fragment of a moment, Dez thought that she caught the flicker of something else; it was as if she looked through the grimed glass of a haunted house and saw the pale, pleading face of a ghost. In the second before the thing lunged at her, Dez saw the shadow of the little girl screaming at her from the endless darkness…
…The screaming face of the little girl, trapped inside the mindless thing that had been her, was worse than anything. Worse than even all the voices screaming inside Desdemona Fox’s head.
So Dez screamed, too.
And with a movement as fluid and fast as if she had been practicing her whole life for this single moment, Dez drew her glock and pointed and fired straight and true and blew out the lights in the haunted house…”
Dez faces inhuman evil and almost insurmountable odds. After reading the last one hundred pages, the story jolts to its inexorable stop. The reader is left to wonder, is this how the world ends? Not with a bang, but with a bite?
Hungry for more? Try this scrumptious dirt cake. The ‘dirt’ may look like something under a zombie’s fingernails, but it’s oh so tasty.