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Literature throughout the decades has often made use of social turmoil and disaster, be it fact or fiction, as a backdrop for dramatic prose. In Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND, the backdrop was the American Civil War. In John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH, it was the Great Depression. In today’s media, it’s…zombies! The undead have not only raided movie theaters the world ’round, they’ve invaded your local bookstore as well—and not those mindless monstrosities you see shuffling from the self-help section to the adjoining café with a hardcover copy of some spineless, Oprah-sponsored MD tucked under one arm.
Enter DEADCORE, not to be confused with that subpar subgenre of metal music known as “deathcore.” Released by Comet Press, a publishing house that (as its website states) specializes in publishing “horror, suspense and dark crime fiction,” DEATHCORE features four ferocious zombie novellas that don’t pull any punches.
Randy Chandler’s opening opus, “Dead Juju,” showcases a handful of lowlifes inhabiting the border between Mexico and Arizona in the midst of the apocalypse. When what appears to be a giant eye emerges from the clouds to gaze down on this sinful Southwest, all hell breaks loose. Man-eating insects, man-eating men, necrophilia…you name it.
In “Zombie Safari,” Ben Cheetham goes beyond the onset of your typical zombie outbreak and into a world where the undead are confined to game preserves. Protagonist Mikey and his hunting buddies quickly learn that man is not the most dangerous game—at least not until they join the ranks of the dead. “Zee Bee & Bee” (a.k.a. “Propeller Hats for the Dead”) by David James Keaton offers an insightful riff on trend horror and contemporary pop culture very much akin that of early-’90s Wes Craven. The employees at a zombie-themed bed-and-breakfast analyze everything from George A. Romero to Truman Capote and, in classic SCREAM fashion, lay out some of the rules necessary for a proper piece of zombie cinema—such as not using the word “zombie.”
In what is perhaps the book’s most unique work, “Night of the Jikininki” by Edward M. Erdelac, skilled samurai Kumada Sadahiko travels to a remote prison in feudal Japan, charged with testing a new sword. When the prison’s dead begin to rise following the predictions of a cannibal monk, Sadahiko and the jailed bandit known as Red Dog do all they can to survive.
As the book’s title indicates, DEADCORE achieves all extremes. Violent, perverse, depraved—and, as such, quite recommended. Check out a “book trailer” for this title below.
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