Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Carlos Sisi’s “The Wanderers”

The Wanderers is a translated version of a Spanish zombie novel brought over to the United States by Permuted Press.  This is a fairly traditional zombie tale that takes place in Malaga, Spain, a city on the Mediterranean coast.  It has an ensemble cast with several key characters that are focused on.  The tale covers the initial rise of the dead and carries through to when the city is controlled by the dead and very few of the living remain.  The zombies are a mix of slow and fast but I would say they are very traditional-they reaction to visual and audio stimulus and require that you do trauma to the brain to put them down.

While the zombies are the main obstacle for the living, as is the case with most quality zombie tales a human nemesis becomes the real problem.  In this case, it is a priest who has tortured himself while locked up in his church trying to find the meaning behind the dead rising and has naturally interpreted it as a clear sign of the Apocalypse.  Still, he doesn’t know why he has been spared, and in the madness that ensues, he submits himself to the zombie hordes outside the church, prepared to bring things to an end.  This is when he discovers that the undead have no interest in him.  They do not attack or try to eat him, but move past him, oblivious to his existence.  Taking this as the sign he has been waiting for from God, along with a note from some survivors pleading for help that blows by where he is standing, he sets out to become the Angel of Death.  He will use the undead to send the rest of the living straight to hell.

While the use of clergy who align themselves with the undead, or use them to defeat the living is nothing new in zombie storytelling, I think this is the first instance I have come across where a religious figure is given a genuine, if perhaps misguided, sign that they are special, and that God has granted them special powers.

The translation of this story from Spanish to English has a few hiccups, though none that really confused me.  There are perhaps a few words missing and some awkward translations, but overall it was good enough.  The story itself is solid enough, with a few characters that had a genuine feel to them that allowed me to grow attached and saddened by their loss, though there a decent amount of what I would call “cannon fodder” characters that were less interesting.  The priest is somewhat one dimensional, with a madness that I have seen before in other stories-they have been chosen to destroy the sinners.  This priest does so without question and with no doubts.  Don’t get me wrong, the result is a loathsome and vile character that you love to hate, and want to see perish.  The author does a good job making things interesting here, since this character you wish to see dead might also hold the key to survival because of his unique immunity to the undead.

Overall, this is an entertaining zombie tale.  That it takes place in Spain gives it a bit of a different flavor than what I’m used to, and everything about the priest character made him quite intriguing.  While there are murmurs of a possible sequel or trio of books in this saga, this story stands completely on its own, with no real loose ends that had me begging for more answers in the end.

The Wanderers can be found here:  http://www.amazon.com/Wanderers-Carlos-Sisi/dp/1618680145/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328063284&sr=1-2

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