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  1. #1
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    Zombie Fantasy /Grim Zombie Horror Book Recs

    Hello all, this is my first post so excuse me if I have failed to pick up a similar thread using the search function.

    So I'm looking for what is in my mind two distinct genre recommendations, the first encompassing fantasy, the second contemporary horror.

    Recently I read the first book in Richard Lee Byers "The Haunted Lands" series, a book set within the Forgotten Realms that I came upon having finished RA Salvatore's "Legends of Drizzt" novels. My interest piqued having previously enjoyed "Portlandtown" which melded Western fiction with the undead, I found a book titled "The Curse of Troius" by Alan Edwards plainly advertising itself as "A Zombie Fantasy Novel," that is in fact the books subtitle. I was pleasantly surprised by both as well as the concept of a Zombie apocalypse set within the tropes of the fantasy genre. Since, I haven't been able to discern any other fantasy so singularly focused on the undead. Does anyone have any suggestions, aside from the second and third novels in the Haunted Lands trilogy.

    My second request is borne more out of frustration. Ever since receiving "The Zombie Survival Guide" by Max Brooks I have been fascinated by all things zombie related. However the contemporary zombie horror genre is a minefield of more misses than hits that has largely warded me from buying anything. What I am really looking for is something dark and grim, more Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" than the multicoloured, comic book wannabe books that seem to litter the shelves ala "Zombie Fallout." While I can abide that style when reading books such as "The Haunted Lands" and "Portlandtown," I find it grating when set in a real world context. So any recommendations for some grim and heavy contemporary zombie horror would also be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    For a somewhat grim, certainly heavy, literary zombie plot somewhat similar to The Road, try Zone One by Colson Whitehead. I think someone who uses "piqued", "borne" and "abide" in a forum post would enjoy it.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    For a somewhat grim, certainly heavy, literary zombie plot somewhat similar to The Road, try Zone One by Colson Whitehead. I think someone who uses "piqued", "borne" and "abide" in a forum post would enjoy it.
    Thanks, Phil. I needed that laugh.

    On a less lofty plain, try Joe R. Lansdale's Deadman's Road. It's a novella with several short stories. The novella features zombies and has a different tone from the somewhat lighter short stories. Lansdale's writing blends humor, often far-fetched, raunchy and/or scatological, with emotional seriousness in a way that I think is unique to him -- his short story "On the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks" also features zombies, as does "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back" I think, though memory of that story is a might foggy.


    Randy M.

  4. #4
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    That's a little tricky, as "grim" is one of those degree words. Zombies were originally a fantasy concept and they are used fairly often in fantasy fiction, but often mixed in with other creatures, rather than solo. Whereas the SF ones tend to go the Romero route and have an apocalypse due to some SF cause. So I'll just list a bunch and you can see what works for you.

    Now, I'm assuming you read Brooks' World War Z? Which does indeed get quite grim and serious for a lot of it. It's done as an oral journalistic history of an outbreak, and it's pretty much the zombie novel to beat for everybody.

    Other ones:

    Mira Grant, Newsflesh trilogy -- this is actually a SF post-apoc zombie series with a great deal of despair underlying it, and a fair amount of politics, journalistic and ethical issues. Grant also does fantasy under the Seanan McGuirre name.

    Joe R. Landsdale also did a zombie novel called Dead in the West (not sure if that's in the collection Randy mentioned or not.)

    Brian Keene is very well known for his horror zombie novel The Rising.

    James Knapp's Revivors series got a lot of attention, as it involves deliberately creating and using zombies.

    Daryl Gregory did some funky stuff in Raising Stony Mayhall.

    Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth got a lot of attention as a dark fable with zombies.

    Brian Lumley did a weird dark fantasy one called Ship of Dreams. He gets very grim.

    John Horner Jacobs did a fantasy one involving demonic creatures, zombies and blues music in the 1950's called Southern Gods. It's pretty dark.

    Justin Cronin's The Passage series is supposed to be about vampires, but they seem to be more zombies, in the Matheson I Am Legend vein, and it's fairly grim.

    Lee Battersby's The Corpse-Rat King series isn't grim -- it's a funky mix of epic fantasy, horror and dark satire, but it might be of interest on the fantasy front.

    Cinda Williams Chima has The Enchanter Heir epic fantasy series where they assassinate zombies with magic.

    Tim Marquitz and pals have the Dead West series.

    Cherie Priest does steampunk zombies in the Boneshaker series -- whether it's grim enough for you, I couldn't say.

    Permuted Press has just about every kind of zombie novel and anthology, so might be worth mucking around in their catalogue for possible titles.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Mira Grant, Newsflesh trilogy -- this is actually a SF post-apoc zombie series with a great deal of despair underlying it, and a fair amount of politics, journalistic and ethical issues. Grant also does fantasy under the Seanan McGuirre name.
    My daughter really enjoyed these. In some ways she's not as picky as I am, but there are rare few books that inspire her to read them from cover to cover and she read all of this trilogy.

    Joe R. Landsdale also did a zombie novel called Dead in the West (not sure if that's in the collection Randy mentioned or not.)
    Yes. That's the one and I meant to include the title -- I really should learn not to post when I'm hurrying on to other things -- it probably is somewhat longer than a novella, but it's short enough to include short stories, and since they all feature the same character, well ...

    A bit more on "Dead in the West".

    Daryl Gregory did some funky stuff in Raising Stony Mayhall.
    This is one I want to get and read. I don't really care much for zombie fiction, but I liked Gregory's We Are All Completely Fine a lot.

    John Horner Jacobs did a fantasy one involving demonic creatures, zombies and blues music in the 1950's called Southern Gods. It's pretty dark.
    Zombies are featured but not the main attraction; it's more a Lovecraft pastiche. It is dark. I was iffy about it. As first novels go, it's not bad but Jacobs relies on a few cliched events that I had trouble passing over. As Lovecraft Mythos stories go, there are stronger ones out there.

    Justin Cronin's The Passage series is supposed to be about vampires, but they seem to be more zombies, in the Matheson I Am Legend vein, and it's fairly grim.
    And I am Legend inspired Night of the Living Dead. I understand that Romero has been upfront about that.


    Randy M.

  6. #6
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy M. View Post
    My daughter really enjoyed these. In some ways she's not as picky as I am, but there are rare few books that inspire her to read them from cover to cover and she read all of this trilogy.
    I've read the first one and want to read the rest. I liked it better than the fantasy stuff of hers I've read so far (though the fantasy stuff is good in urban fantasy land.) At first, it seems a bit like a gee whiz young people daredevils with zombies, but then it gets very thriller and political -- it's a nice look at how A) a society that doesn't completely fall apart technologically in the zombie apocalypse would be formed; and B) how networks, social media and tech could be used as new forms of press in that society. (It's got a lot of action, for those who like action.)

    Zombies are featured but not the main attraction; it's more a Lovecraft pastiche. It is dark. I was iffy about it. As first novels go, it's not bad but Jacobs relies on a few cliched events that I had trouble passing over. As Lovecraft Mythos stories go, there are stronger ones out there.
    I liked the god system, though, in Southern Gods. There were a lot of good scenes, including those dealing with zombies. I thought it was a bit short and had some difficulties, but the writing was good and the main character was very interesting. It's always interesting seeing how writers who use a heavy music element deal with it in written storytelling. I thought he did a pretty good job there, but then that aspect got kind of lost in the last part. Worth the time, I think. But no, it's not a total zombie fest. That's the thing about the historical and contemporary fantasies with zombies -- it's usually zombies and other things. For instance, Richard Kandry's Sandman Slim, the first book, does really cool stuff with zombies -- they're part of the system, but the series is mainly about vampires. And it doesn't have the tone the OP wants for the modern settings.

    And I am Legend inspired Night of the Living Dead. I understand that Romero has been upfront about that.
    Yep, Matheson was drawing from other things in the past, but his novel really is the granddaddy of all. Of course his zombies weren't really zombies or vampires, but something new, also an old SF idea. Cronin's crew are essentially vampires -- they seek blood -- but it's very much a zombie-ish set-up, so the books might serve.

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