Saturday, 6 August 2011

Take A Walk

Take a walk on the zombiefied

Ian Woodhead's brilliant novella brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'going clubbing it' and creates a worthy successor to The Unwashed Dead, writes Mark Cantrell

Walking With Zombies

By Ian Woodhead


Available From: Amazon

IN Walking With Zombies, Ian Woodhead has once again shown himself to be a master of zombie mayhem.

One might even be tempted to call him a necromancer for his ability to commune with the dead and set them shambling forth on their hungry purpose, but it’s the living that truly bring this story to life (fittingly enough).

As with his previous work, The Unwashed Dead, Woodhead’s Walking With Zombies is packed with a cast of compellingly human characters. Note, they’re not well-rounded characters by a long shot; many of them are a downright dysfunctional lot, but they are developed with obvious affection, foibles and all, to ensure we are not dealing with wooden, two dimensional mannequins.

Many of them are nasty pieces of work. The owner of the Stockholm Club, where much of the action takes place, and his employee Talbot Field, are cases in point. But neither are they caricatures; for all their nastiness, they are fleshed out human beings. The same applies for the rest of the unfortunates caught up in the action. To varying degrees, they are portraits of everyday folk complete with a cocktail of flaws – and strengths.

We should despise many, but we are curiously drawn into their lives as they face the ultimate live or die horror of zombie Armageddon.

As Dave Jeffrey, author of Necropolis Rising, says in the foreword: “We shouldn’t like any of Woodhead’s characters; they are course and self-serving, riddled with dysfunction and vanity. Yet like them we do, care for them, hope that all ends well for them though we know, deep down, they will meet an end as brutal as their upbringing.”

Nominally, Walking With Zombies is the sequel to The Unwashed Dead though it doesn’t quite pick up the story from that earlier novel. Rather it runs parallel; the infection that has brought death and the undead to the Breakspear Gardens estate has broken loose into the wider city of Bradford. For Talbot Field, a debt collector with a love for violence, and the man who first discovers the terrible outbreak, it’s about to become the night of his life.

For everyone working at the Stockholm Club, it’s just another night, albeit the dreaded ‘zombie night’, and yes they are going to regret the disparaging name they have given to the evening set aside for the city’s pensioners. Chef Dominic, bar maid Marlene, and the rest, will soon be facing the real thing and then they’ll be at least partially grateful for their boss’s rather shadier activities.

When the real zombies turn up, they’ll need more than the boss’s illegal cache of guns to avoid becoming lunch; they’ll need courage and more than a little luck. But when Talbot Field turns up, having battled his way through the zombified city, the real struggle begins. There are worse things than the undead…

Walking With Zombies is more a novella than a full-length novel, but it has everything you’d expect to find in a good zombie tale: gruesome death, gore, and a disparate group of people thrown together in a do or die effort to stay alive against the odds. And it’s all painted in living detail by an author who not only has an affectionate rapport with his characters and his subject matter, but who is also a talented storyteller.

The version previewed here is a pre-release edition that the author kindly made available so it is a little rough around the edges, but even without the final polish, it wins over with the quality of the writing and the engaging story. It is another winner from the author’s vivid and delightfully gruesome imagination.

This is a cracking piece of a work and a worthy successor to The Unwashed Dead.

Mark Cantrell,


31 July 2011

Copyright © July 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Category: REVIEWS



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