Review of David Dunwoody’s “Unbound and Other Tales”
David Dunwoody has written some fine zombie fiction, and I was curious about this combination novella and short story compendium he’d written, since it steers clear of the rotting folk completely. There isn’t one story about zombies in this book, although the dead do pop up in a couple of different instances. Unbound, which carries the bulk of the pages in this offering, is a story about Emil Sharpe, a man with albino white features dressed entirely in black. He is supposed to be a character in a series of books, but for reasons unknown, he has come to life, and is terrorizing the people who live and drive up and down I-15 out west as he takes his 18 wheeler, the Yankee Rose, and carries cargo for some darkly mysterious people. Several folks are after him, including the author of the novels he appears in, because Sharpe has made their lives nightmares as he has demands that his story, his real story, be told through the author’s pages. The story starts out with a bang, and the intensity doesn’t let up throughout. Emil Sharpe acts like a demon and yet at the same time, there is something distinctly human and vulnerable about him, though he most assuredly is neither. It isn’t until the very end of this tale that we discover the truth, and there will be hell to pay when we do.
The rest of this book is made up of eight short stories, more than one of which ties into Unbound in one form or fashion. They provide the reader with a nice creep factor, with odd characters, dark magic, and other elements of a good, jarring nightmare. I particularly enjoyed “Clowns”, knowing that anyone who has ever been afraid of these painted devils will probably feel at least a tad bit uncomfortable while reading that tale.
It is Unbound that holds sway here, overshadowing the rest of the stories, though I found them enjoyable and certainly devious. It is just that Unbound could be expanded or contracted into a full length novel or be turned short story and would likely leave its taste in your mouth long after you’re done with it. It has the flavor of Peckinpah with just a dash of Lovecraft and larger helpings of Stephen King. There were perhaps echoes of The Dark Half, by Stephen King, in my head as I read this tale, but Dunwoody takes the concept of a character come to life off the pages of a book and molds and shapes it like clay (in more ways than one) to make it his own. Emil Sharpe is just one of those characters that starts out fascinatingly scary and grows on you from there.
Unbound and Other Tales can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/UNBOUND-Other-Tales-David-Dunwoody/dp/1451511582/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297787359&sr=1-1