Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Iain McKinnon’s “Remains of the Dead”

Remains of the Dead is the sequel to Iain McKinnon’s “Domain of the Dead” but in a way, it is its own stand alone story.  I guess the term sequel doesn’t accurately describe this tale, since this story runs parallel to the first book.  Both books start out the same way, with a group of survivors trapped years after the start of the zombie apocalypse inside a large warehouse that is filled with all the supplies they would need to survive.  Unfortunately, they have burned through most of those supplies and only have a few months left before they will end up starving to death.  A helicopter, stationed out at sea on one of the few surviving military ships, has come to the area where the warehouse is to collect an undead “sample” for the scientist on the ship to study.  The people from the warehouse, upon hearing the helicopter, decide to make a run to the bird in an effort at escaping the hell they have lived through for several years and the reality that their time is running out.

The first book focuses on the survivors who climb aboard the helicopter as they return to the ship.  Their story is one that examines the science behind the outbreak of the plague and the attempts to find a cure or inoculation against it.  It also deals with a fresh outbreak of infection onboard the ship.  This novel details the plight of those left behind: the people who couldn’t fit on the small helicopter and must figure out a way to survive until the chopper can return to rescue them.  As the readers who have checked out the first book know, the estimated eight hour turnaround time they were hoping for is not quite what happens and the survivors will be forced to somehow make due for much longer than that.

The book is broken up into two storylines.  The main story is of Cahz, the leader of the soldiers on the ground, Cannon, another soldier, Ryan, one of the survivors from the warehouse, Elspeth, an elderly survivor, and Ryan’s infant daughter, who happens to be Elspeth’s granddaughter.  As we discovered in the first book, Elspeth has been bitten and the baby has been scratched, so it appears as if both will be dead from infection soon enough, which is why they chose to stay behind.  The other storyline is that of Ali, another warehouse survivor who gets separated from the others in the throngs of undead trying to tear them to pieces on the race to the chopper, and is presumed dead.  He manages to find his own route to escape and fights tooth and nail to survive and somehow figure out a way to reconnect with the others as the helicopter abandons them all with the hordes of undead nipping at their heels.

This was the story I wanted to read in tandem with the first story presented in book one of this presumed trilogy.  I had been hoping to see the story rotate back and forth between the survivors on the ship and the survivors on the ground, but the author chose to split the stories up.  I have to say that McKinnon turns the intensity up a notch in this, the second book in his series.  The constant race against the undead, the desperate measures taken to survive at every turn, and the solid character development make this tale both a fun and invigorating read in the zombie genre.

I am looking forward to the third installment in this series, where I will presume the two sets of characters will be reunited and their saga will go forward as one story.  While I suppose I still wish that the two stories would have rotated back and forth through the first and second books instead of being told separately, I have no complaints about the characters and the intense action the author delivers with his two books.

Remains of the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Remains-Dead-Iain-McKinnon/dp/1618680048/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321572504&sr=1-2

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