January 25, 2013 - 2:09 pm
Author: Ian Woodhead
Page count/size: 113pp/278KB
Release Date: 15th Jan 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
Woodhead’s Zombie Armageddon series has been going for quite some time and this around book number five. From the early days of The Unwashed Dead, a zombie fan favourite, to the later books, particularly Dead Veil, Woodhead’s work has been consistent. When reviewing his work I have stated there are editorial issues, however, I have also stated that Woodhead’s zombies are amongst the most intriguing zombies I have come across, with different variations including Hunters, who retain their intellect and ability to speak to the neanderthal-esque Climbers and straight forward dead zombies.
Whilst Woodhead’s books are on the short side, I can safely say that they generally deliver; characters that intrigue the reader and plenty of blood, gore and biting. However, on recently reading Dead Veil, the previous book in the series, the writer left us with a cliffhanger about the Manchester compound, which unfortunately does not get resolved in this book. I suspect he is planning to bring all of the elements together in a further novel to tie it all together. It would be a shame if this wasn’t resolved.
This brings me neatly to Dead Reaping, the continuation of the series, in which we meet a new community of survivors who have created a commune to live together, forage and grow vegetables, despite being surrounded by the dead. Among the commune, there are those who are ‘tainted’ like Clarisse who has a sham marriage to Dominic, and Clarisse carries the zombie gene within her. The commune is policed by Adjustment Officers who clear the surrounding area of the dead, and also hunt out these ‘tainted’ survivors. If Clarisse is discovered, she will be destroyed, so Dominic protects her secret. As well as this group, we have a religious commune ruled by Abbot Moses (Lee) formerly a Hunter, living on scraps of tainted flesh. He ironically preaches abstinence from consuming flesh despite keeping his own small stash. Abbot Moses and his Brothers, are acolytes, with best friend Brother Jacob, are once normal men who use religion to keep control of the Hunters. They exist on their ‘supplements’ of tainted flesh, whilst denying others. But this state of denial can’t last for long, particularly as their mental wellbeing and memories are affected by the lack of flesh.
Back in the other community, there is also the mysteries ‘Our Lady’ who has some sort of power over the tainted and makes predictions about the commune.
There is most definitely a religious overtone to this novel that doesn’t appear in the others, so it comes as something of a surprise and a distraction, and Abbot Moses does become a somewhat confusing character throughout the novel as his mind deteriorates. This is not the best of Woodhead’s novels, however, the series itself is engaging and the big reveal at the end of the novel about one of the characters is a doozy! Furthermore, it does rattle along at a steady pace and the author is always reliable at delivering an interesting slant on the zombie genre. I look forward to his next book and the continuation of the series.