Darlings of Decay is an anthology of zombie shorts and novellas written by female authors. Often, the standard point made in a review of an anthology is that it is a mixed bag; good, bad, and so-so tales populate a book filled with a wide assortment of authors, whether the theme is specific or open ended. Such is the case with this book, though not entirely for the standard reasons. This isn’t a book filled with short stories that are all within a certain size range or even stories that are all complete. Instead, it is a mix of shorts, novellas, and primers, for lack of a better term, from an assortment of authors offering up their take on the zombie apocalypse.
It wouldn’t be altogether fair to be critical of an author whose contribution is more of a primer rather than a whole story. Unfortunately, stunted tales like those do leave something to be desired. Granted, it is an attempt to lure the reader to the author’s completed work outside of the anthology, but they left me a bit frustrated at the sudden start and abrupt endings. There were also a small group of novellas that felt rather expansive for such a book. They were not necessarily primers, but were parts of larger works with bigger tales to tell, thus once again leaving things open ended unless the reader chooses to seek out the rest of the author’s work.
Darlings of Decay did offer up quite a few short stories that were not hints at bigger tales and some were noteworthy. Chantal Boudreau, Tonia Brown, Catt Dahman, Lori R. Lopez, and Suzanne Robb all contributed some very entertaining short stories to this work. As to whetting my appetite for something beyond the pages of this book, Jackie Druga’s “Zombie Battle” had a world building, epic quality to it that made me curious to see where the story would be heading after it cut off here.
Focusing on the quality of the stories, it was indeed a mix of well written, sharply creative tales and dull plodders that were predictable from start to finish. It was clear that each author had to be responsible for their own editing, as there was no uniformity to each story on that score. Some were clean while quite a few were clogged with obvious typos and awkward phrasing that could have been addressed with a uniform editorial sweep.
Treat this book as a sample platter and you will likely not be disappointed in what it has to offer. Nibble here and there-try the short stories and perhaps take a peek at the longer tales and decide whether what they have to offer are worth some bigger bites. Keep that in mind and you should come away satisfied that you have discovered a few new talented voices in the zombie genre that are worth seeking out further works from.
Darlings of Decay can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Darlings-Of-Decay-Shannon-Mayer-ebook/dp/B00DQ1P3S4/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8