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Tales of the Dead


by Steven Jenkins

Watch out, it's lumbering your way; another collection of short horrors from Steve Jenkins. His last anthology, "Spine", covered the gamut of horror. This new book focuses on just one kind: zombies.

Now zombies are not my favorite monsters. If they're supposed to be mindless, there's not a great deal you can do with the monster itself. Still, clever writers can use the subject. For instance, the TV show The Walking Dead has zombies but the stories are really about the human survivors.

Jenkins gets his zombie book off to a great start. At only a few pages, it's hard to describe "I Am Dead" without giving away much, but it has a zombie lamenting his fate—and a killer twist. 5/5

"Room 503" is fairly standard with the zombie action, but added to this is the hero's personal crisis. Unfortunately, it's hard to identify with this loser. 3/5

"Run" is about a jogger running the marathon of her life—with a relentless zombie on her tail. She tires, he doesn't. It's a short, simple story with hardly a wasted word. 4/5

"Burning Ambition" is the original short story from which Jenkins later developed his novel "Burn the Dead". It's a story about how society has come to deal with the zombie outbreak—they're just more rubbish to be hauled off—and burned. The ending is surprising, stunning, depressing, and simply to be expected. 5/5

In "The Pit", the zombie apocalypse is relagated only to various underground regions. That's fine—unless you're lost in the darkness of a coal mine. And that's exactly what happens to a Welsh miner who find himself alone with the dead. There's nothing really new here but it's still a well-told story. 4/5

Lastly, "Simon Dunn: Former Zombie" shows us there is a cure for being one of the walking dead—but the repercussions remain. The story is clever but very short. 4/5

Overall: 4 stars.

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