I really enjoyed The Dead That Walk because the stories felt very fresh and new. I was accustomed to reading zombie literature and feeling terror and revulsion, but not really any sorrow or sympathy before. The stories were also very unpredictable – which can be difficult to achieve in and of itself.
Each story is preceded by an author biography, which is one characteristic that I look for in anthologies of any kind. I like to read about the author’s life and the circumstances that influenced their work.
Some standout stories –
- “For the Good of All” by Yvonne Navarro. This story was a thriller from beginning to end. While I was reading it, I thought I understood what was going on, and I couldn’t figure out why the author had chosen to be so mysterious. By the time I finished the last word I realized that I had no idea what was going on, and the ending absolutely floored me. I read it again, in fact, to make sure that I hadn’t left out any details.
- “The Crossing of Aldo Ray” by Weston Ochse. The idea of roaming through a crowd of the undead has never been comforting, and I have often wondered how long I would last before I gave myself up for human and was eaten. This story examines a man’s peril as he tries to cross international borders amidst the living dead. The story makes for an interesting comparison of the struggles of illegal immigrants.
- “Cool Air” by H.P. Lovecraft. This story is loosely a zombie story, but is nevertheless fantastic. It centers around an eccentric shut-in and his unlikely friendship with another man who is renting in the same boardinghouse. If you like Lovecraft – you know what I mean. If you haven’t read his stories before – you need to !
- “The Silent Majority” by Stephen Woodward. I couldn’t stop laughing during this story. Richard Nixon comes back from the dead and has some very interesting advice for the new President of the United States during a new period of war.
- “The Long Dead Day” by Joe R. Lansdale. This story is very short and very powerful. A father must make a decision regarding a newly infected family member. He must also decide what to do with himself and the surviving family after his decision. [I’m sorry I can’t give a more complete description of this story. Lansdale is very blunt and straightforward and the effect is something like receiving a blow from a red-hot icepick into the stomach. I don’t want to ruin that for any potential readers.]
- “Tell Me Like You Done Before” by Scott Edelman. Phenomenal. A re-telling of the Steinbeck classic, Of Mice and Men, only with a few catches. George and Lenny are plagued by zombies and are forced to go from house to house in order to escape them. In this particular instance, what you kill pursues you until it kills you. Considering it’s a retelling of a novel, it’s a short story but still manages to include the major events from the book.
- “Home Delivery” by Stephen King. I have always been a fan of the great Stephen King. I think what I like most about this story is his range of characters. King’s leading lady starts out sheepish, abused, and insecure. Through the tribulations of the rising of the hungry dead she finds strength in herself and changes her life forever. It’s an inspirational story [of a sort] for anyone who has lost someone and isn’t sure what to do with themselves after. The ending of it is both sad and hopeful.
If you are looking for a varied approach to zombies I strongly suggest this book.