Review: ‘Where the Dead Go to Die’ by Aaron Dries and Mark Allan Gunnells

wherethedeadgoWhere the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allan Gunnells
Crystal Lake Publishing (November 2016)
197 pages; $14.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Been a while since I’ve read a great opening line, but this one drew me right in: The dead roam those halls.

Emily Samuels is starting new job and the protesters are out in force, complete with signs reading, “LIFE IS 4 THE LIVING”,“BRING OUT UR DED”,  “NO TOLERRENCE FOR BONE EATERS”, “LET’S FINISH THE JOB”.

Where the Dead Go to Die is a decidedly different take on the zombie apocalypse. In the world created by authors Dries and Gunnells, once infected it can take years before the “dead” become hungry. As a result the ministry has established long-term care facilities where they can stay until they absolutely need to be terminated. It’s not brains these zombies cry for. Here, the infected crave sugar, fats and, with time, marrow.

“No, no, no! We don’t say zombie here.  Nor do we refer to our guests as ‘smilers’, or ‘bone eaters’ or whatever else it is you hear over there in the Russian quarter, it won’t fly here, Emily. There’s a reason those offensive B movies and trashy novels about the infected have been withdrawn from circulation and banned.”

Where the Dead Go to Die is a captivating story, powerful in the way its told. In some ways it is a comment on elder care as much as it is a story about zombies. A story with a great deal of humanity, yet filled with gore and…hope. At one point I was actually moved to tears.

There are several illustrations interspersed throughout the the book. Each character was rich with authenticity and the storytelling is a cut above…

The pigeon rolled trying to flap itself right again. Only it was too late. It entangled itself in the barbed wire lining the lunch area fence. Metal thorns pierced the bird’s fragile hulk, and the more it tried to fight the stronger that hold became. The pigeon screamed until the pain became too much, and then cooed itself into stunned resignation.

Using a zombie tale to tell a story of the turbulent times we live in seems nothing short of inspired. Not sure whose idea it was to use instructions on creating an origami crane to open each of the Interludes in the story, but that was really inspired.

Wholeheartedly recommended.

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