The High-Maintenance Ladies of the Zombie Apocalypse by Melinda Marshall and Christine Steendam
Hazelridge Press (October 2016)
127 pages, $10.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
The High-Maintenance Ladies of the Zombie Apocalypse is exactly what the title conveys, a humorous attempt to pit pampered fashionistas against brainless, flesh-eating hordes. Taken in that spirit, this book is a complete success. It is at times silly, gory, irreverent, suspenseful and all around fun. Co-authors Melinda Marshall and Christine Steendam have concocted some clever heroines and given us insight into their survival skills. Overall, this is a quick, fun read that’s worth pursuing.
Maddie and Vanessa are two young, independent urban women living the high life. We meet them as they are getting pedicures, with germophobic Venessa worrying about possible bacteria in the water. When one of the other guests begins to act crazy—moaning, screaming, and attacking people—Vanessa and Maddie quickly leave, assuming it’s an isolated incident.
However, when the same symptoms begin to occur at work with patients and coworkers, even possible dates, the girls decide to camp out in Vanessa’s apartment until things die down. After a week, they’ve drunk all their wine, eaten most of the food, and need to resupply. Armed with a tennis racket, a baseball bat, and two killer pairs of high heels, they navigate the streets of the city to stock up, only to confront more and more of the “crazies.” Eventually, they decide to flee the city, only to run into more dangers, both living and undead.
This was a very brisk novel. It was cleanly written, and moved along at a fast pace. There was enough detail and description, though, to keep readers engaged. As with any good zombie novel, the authors did not shy away from the graphic imagery. The scene of a high heel rupturing a bloated zombie stomach was particularly gruesome. However, the authors also did not dwell on the disturbing imagery, focusing more on Maddie and Vanessa and their plans for survival.
At times, the novel felt a bit too convenient. Cars were right where the protagonists needed them to be, safe havens appeared where they ought to, and the ride seemed bumpy, but not overly fraught with peril. Furthermore, Maddie and Vanessa sometimes seemed to be overly diva, especially when they were making plans for their escape that had to include their favorite pairs of shoes.
Still, this novel is not meant to be taken as seriously as other horror novels, and can even be read as a form of social satire, so these minor flaws are outweighed by the overriding story. The only other issue this novel had was that it was much too short, and could have easily been developed for another few hundred pages. The fact that it stops right in the middle of the action leads me to believe that a sequel is on the way, which I certainly hope for, as these characters are too good to let go of so soon.
Picking up a book titled The High-Maintenance Ladies of the Zombie Apocalypse, readers know exactly what they are going to get. Indulged divas living a comfy lifestyle wind up facing a city full of zombies armed with only a tennis racket and a fabulous pair of shoes. It’s like Sex in the City met Dawn of the Dead, with the perfect balance of action, horror and humor. It’s a very clever book and one that even casual readers of horror will certainly enjoy.