Quite a few post apocalyptic novels have attempted to inject love and romance into their pages. Some do it by cramming it into a high action, gore splattered story, while others let it flow more gradually into the mix, letting it germinate based on circumstances surrounding the characters-people pushed together and sharing the horrors that surround one another, so they come together to push back the nightmares. Meghan Ciana Doidge is one of the few storytellers who pushes the love story up front and center with After The Virus. There are a couple of other books I have read that have the relationship between two main characters stand as the key element, but this is the first that I would categorize as a true romance tale.
This story surrounds the two main characters, Rhiannon and Will, as they live their separate lives after the apocalypse…if you can call it living-especially for Rhiannon, who begins the story captured and put into what amounts to a baby mill. Over 99% of the world’s population has died, and the barbaric pockets of survivors are lead by men who need as many healthy women to breed as possible. But Rhiannon is special. She is an actress and a world class beauty that has caught the eye of the local boss, who wants her all to himself. She escapes, but throughout the rest of the story is pursued by the boss’s men, who are intent on bringing her back to him. Will, on the other hand, is a man who has chosen to live his life alone, in a small, remote town where he dutifully takes to the task of cleaning out the dead bodies and restocking the stores and and maintaining the hotel. But Will just wants to be left alone, which creates friction when other survivors come across his little Shangri La who are looking for a place to stay. He eludes danger with them, and on one of his trips to find more supplies, comes across a mute nine year old girl he dubs Snickers (that was what she was eating when he finds her) and though she is skittish, brings her back to his place to live with him. Rhiannon, who manages to escape her captors, stumbles across Will’s town and finds herself reluctantly feeling that this new place could be home. Of course, due to the character’s actions and the other desperate survivors that surround them, things do not go at all well for them. Will and Rhiannon are thrust into the wider world, with other survivors, desperate for heroes, latching on to Will. Rhiannon gets captured again, and Will realizes that he has a greater responsibility in the world than he had hoped or wanted, but will accept, if it will allow him to save the woman he is falling in love with.
The story flows very well and I liked the characters the author developed. Snickers and the dog B.B. allow Will and Rhiannon to focus their efforts on something more than their awkward, fumbling steps toward the realization that they belong together, and draw them closer throughout the story. Some would call this a zombie story, but more to the point, it is an apocalyptic love tale with a smattering of infected creatures that perhaps resemble zombies, though they are a side point altogether. As the author states clearly, this is a story that pays homage to other author’s tales, including one of my favorite books of all time, The Stand. It is about people living, loving, and struggling after the world has crumbled; trying to put the pieces back together and start again, which requires reluctant heroes and leaders, and symbols of hope that can stand against the devastation that not only a virus can do, but what men can do to one another.
The areas of concern I had with this story were a couple of main distractions that I think took away slightly from the tale. First and foremost, the use of pronouns when it came to stating who was speaking and thinking were confusing. One character would be speaking or would be in action one paragraph, and the next would start out with “he” or “she” and would be referring to an entirely different character. This was consistent throughout the story, and while it is something I got used to and started to expect, it disrupted the story when I had to figure things out more than once. The other issue I had was with the nicknames given to various characters. I totally understand and appreciate them for characters that pass by in a story and become nothing more than minor details, but when they become key characters, and when their real names are learned, those nicknames need to evaporate, or at least used less liberally-it caused confusion, and in some cases didn’t make much sense. Especially when it is really only one person who creates the nickname and doesn’t necessarily speak it out loud, but just as a device to remember them, but in no time, everyone else is using it as well. This works when a few characters call Will “Tex”, but not so much when a character is dubbed “Stupid” early on in the tale, but even when his real name is provided that dismissive moniker is used up until the very end of the story.
Rest assured, these issues were not deterrence for me in reading or completing this book. It is a solid tale, with well fleshed out characters and a story that has a place in the PA pantheon as unique because it is a true love story. I know this is the author’s first book, and my gripes are minor issues that are a sideline to her ability to tell a tale. I look forward to checking out more of her work as it is released.
After The Virus can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/After-the-Virus-ebook/dp/B0053HT0FG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312059772&sr=8-1
Bob McClain runs a Disney website and has created some Disney related guides for fans of the theme parks and Disney in general. But apparently, he also has a side of him that can’t resist the urge to imagine his fondness for Disney fairy tales clashing with another love of his: gut wrenching zombie horror. This piece, Snow White and the Seven Dead Dwarves, is essentially a primer for a book he has written that spreads the terror of the undead to many other fairy tale lands.
As to this particular novella/short story, it starts out much like the traditional, Disney version of the classic tale does, though the author makes it clear in his introduction that he has a great appreciation for the original medieval story, which was far more dark than what Disney put up on the big screen. He decides to take things one step (well, several steps) further, when the huntsmen comes across a wild bore that has been infected with a zombie virus and uses its organs to feed to the queen he is trying to fool into believing that he killed Snow White and took them from. Naturally, all hell breaks out from there after she dines on the tainted meat.
I know that any innocent, fun-loving Disney fan will probably be repulsed by this piece, while any zombie fan out there should be able to appreciate the grim humor and dark telling of this tale. The author is forced to change the names of the dwarves because the ones we know and love are copywrited (or whatever the term is) by Disney. He does a decent job with their new names, and allows us to imagine the dwarves in the cartoon being forced to deal with the terrible happenings in this revised version of the classic.
Snow White and the Seven Dead Dwarves can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Snow-White-Seven-Dwarves-ebook/dp/B0058B9NV8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311530192&sr=8-1
Kevin Walsh over at Buyzombie.com spent some time recently coming up with some pretty good questions for me in an interview after he’d written the final review for my trilogy. I want to thank him for the time and effort. It was a lot of fun. So check it out here: http://www.buyzombie.com/2011/07/14/undead-news/patrick-dorazio-interview/
Wolves of War is an anthology of werewolf tales with war being the setting. Most of these stories hold to that, though there are a few stray pups that don’t really stick with that as the theme, though each of them have werewolves front and center as the key element to each story.
A brief overview of the different stories found on the pages within this book:
World Were II by A.P. Fuchs: Sergeant Dick Channer is at war. Not only with the enemy, but with himself as he hides out in a bunker with the half-eaten corpse of his father, a General, at his side.
The Devil’s Teardrop by David Dunwoody: A little twist on the traditional werewolf tale where the horror isn’t always manifested in a physical form.
And The Streets Will Run Red with the Blood of Bunnies by Derek J. Goodman: From the world of the author’s novel, “The Apocalypse Shift”, Mr. Goodman gives us a darkly comedic tale of werewolves and were…bunnies. Yep, bunnies.
Adrift: A Werewolf Tale by Anthony Giangregorio: A traditional werewolf tale of a bloodbath, but with the slant of it being at sea, on a ship where there is nowhere to run from the slaughter.
Once We Were…by Grayson Moran: You don’t always know who, or what, the true menace is, even if the creatures at the gate are the ones with the fangs and claws ready to tear your heart out.
The Battle After the Apocalypse by Casey Quinn: As the author states at the beginning of this tale, the enemy of my enemy is my friend…but for how long, in this story of the world after the bombs fall.
Fleeing by Rhiannon Frater: Man is not the only creature that flees the horrors of war and sometimes, it is better not to stick your nose into other people’s business.
Homecoming by Franklin E. Wales: I always thought it would be cool to explore my Italian heritage, but not if I knew what was going on in those Italian hills during WW2.
Under a Civil Moon by John Grover: The question often comes up in transformation tales…can the man ever control the beast, especially when he knows what it does is wrong? This Civil War tale explores that question.
Let Loose the Wolves of War by Timothy W. Long: What if you could become the perfect warrior? One that could travel the space lanes and release your inner-beast to lead your squad to victory time after time?
FUBAR by Alan Mendoza: American G.I.’s come across a German Bunker during WW2 with more than just dead German soldiers in it as they discover a bloodbath and some strange experiments going on.
Simon Midean by T. Patrick Rooney: A fast paced whirlwind of blood and guts tale of a werewolf that seems unstoppable, and yet, it is often times the things you least expect that bring things to a crashing halt.
Overlord by Dylan J. Morgan: Another WW2 tale, but told from the eyes of the werewolves, who care little for the follies of man but use their wars to hide their eternal battle with their arch-nemesis.
The World has Talent…To Kill by John McCuaig: On the game show circuit, the werewolves are the kings of the world when it comes to taking on all supernatural comers and laying waste to them.
Blood and Belief by Thom Brannan and Victorya: The world is at war with the werewolves, and they are killed on sight. But what if one of the soldiers in the cause had a dark secret, and knew of even darker, more dangerous secrets that would impact both human and wolf-kind alike?
Der Wulf by Tim Curran: The siege of Stalingrad turns into an even darker nightmare for a squad of German soldiers as they stumble onto a den of werewolves and face the wrath of the pack-leader.
Genetic Coding by Lee Pletzers: Having the natural instincts of a wolf, as well as its strength and endurance, make for a very tough terrorist in this romp through a jungle filled with strange mutations.
As is the case with every anthology, not all stories hit the mark for me, though overall, this was an entertaining tome of short tales of werewolves doing what werewolves do best: terrifying while tearing the hearts out of their prey. Though there were several really entertaining stories in this book, the one that I would have to say was my favorite was “Der Wulf.” The author takes a scene out of nightmare with the siege of Stalingrad, something horrifying enough on its own, and ups the ante with the addition of creatures out of myth that turn jaded soldiers who have pretty much accepted that they are doomed and fills their hearts with the realization that there are fates far worse than death.
If you are fond of werewolves, this one is well worth checking out.
You can find Wolves of War here: http://www.amazon.com/Wolves-War-Werewolves-Eric-Brown/dp/1449573665/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310327912&sr=8-1
I just mentioned in my prior post that Rebecca Besser had reviewed Comes The Dark and also that she had interviewed me as well. Well, Rebecca is a busy blogger today, because she just posted my interview after posting her review earlier today. You can check it out here: http://blog.rebeccabesser.com/2011/07/06/interview-with-patrick-dorazio-author-of-comes-the-dark-the-first-book-of-the-dark-trilogy.aspx
Thanks once again to Rebecca for taking the time to do the interview. It was a lot of fun!
Rebecca Besser, who has taken the time to interview me for her blog, has posted her review of Comes The Dark. For those of you not in the know, Rebecca is a very talented author in her own right, with a growing collection of tales to her name. On top of that, she is a damn fine editor to boot! I have the privilege of appearing with her in Collabthology and also in the Collaboration of the Dead, which is a single story told through the eyes of about twenty or so different authors, which is an ongoing project.
So I wanted to thank Rebecca for taking the time to check out my book, and can’t wait to see what she thinks of the second and third books in the trilogy as well. Check out the review here: http://www.rebeccabesser.com/rb_reviews_017.htm
The Zombie Custodian was the first official reviewer of Comes The Dark and the first review I posted here on my blog. So it is fitting that I post his review of Beyond The Dark here as well. Matt really loved my first book, and I think Beyond The Dark crushed his hopes for a truly happy ending, but he seemed to appreciate the harsh realities that the book proposed. So check out his thorough and detailed review here: http://zombiecustodian.blogspot.com/2011/06/review-of-patrick-dorazios-beyond-dark.html. Thanks again to Matt for taking the time to check out the whole trilogy, and for being one of its most ardent supporters!