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Weekly Book Buzz: Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

We Review the new zombie novel Pariah

By Tim Janson     September 26, 2010


Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
© Thomas Dunne

 

Out this week is Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of “Let the Right One In” which was turned into a film of the same name and now has been remade as “Let Me In” hitting theaters soon. Lets get to a couple of quick news bits…
 
The late Al Williamson, who passed away June 12, 2010, is the winner of the 2010 Spectrum Grand Master Award. “The Advisory Board selected Al for this honor back in February,” says Cathy Fenner, co-director of Spectrum Fantastic Art. “So while this announcement is being made several months after Al’s death, he was very much with us when the decision was made that he be this year’s honoree. It’s appropriate that his award be both a recognition and a remembrance of an important artist and member of the arts community.”
 
SF Grandmaster Harlan Ellison, 76, has made his final convention appearance this past weekend at MadCon in Madison, WI. In an interview with Madison website The Daily Page, Ellison cited his declining health as the reason saying, “The truth of what’s going on here is that I’m dying… I’m like the Wicked Witch of the West — I’m melting. I began to sense it back in January. By that time, I had agreed to do the convention.
 
 
Twilight Forever Rising Lena Meydan [Tor]
 
Darel Ericson of the Dahanavar clan is a rarity among his vampire brethren: he’s an empath, strong enough to occasionally read thought as well as emotion. For centuries, his power has given the Dahanavar a significant advantage against the machinations of the other vampire families, an advantage which makes Darel both a powerful tool and a highly visible target.
 
Fortunately for Darel, it is more useful for the heads of the other clans to maintain the centuries-long peace between the houses than to remove him. But, the cunning and violent head of the House of Nachterret is tired of the truce, and of hiding his presence in the world. The Nachterret would like nothing more than have free reign over the helpless human cattle upon which they feed. Darel, and the human woman he loves, become central to the Nachterret’s scheme to plunge the Houses into all out war. Darel is ultimately forced to face the question: is one young woman’s life too high a price to pay for peace?
 
Siren Song Cat Adams Cat Adams [Tor]
 
Nothing if not resilient, Celia Graves is slowly adjusting to being a half-human, half-vampire Abomination. But her troubles are far from over. Her best friend’s murder is still unsolved, the cops are convinced she should be in jail, and her old lover, the magician Bruno DeLuca, has resurfaced in her life, saying he has something important to tell her.
 
The vampire attack that transformed Celia kicked her latent Siren abilities into high gear, and now she’s been summoned to the Sirens’ island to justify her existence—and possibly fight for her life—in front of the Siren Queen. Celia isn’t sure she’ll survive to make the trip. The demon she defeated in Blood Song hasn’t exactly gone quietly—he’s left Celia suffering from a powerful curse.
 
Quatrain Sharon Shinn [Ace]
 
Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses books have fascinated readers and critics alike with their irresistible blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure. Now in Quatrain, she weaves compelling stories in four of the worlds that readers love in Fight, Blood, Gold, and Flame.
 
Masques Patricia Briggs [Ace]
 
After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?
 
Left for Undead: A Crimson Moon Novel L. A. Banks [St. Martins]
 
Secret government operative Sasha Trudeau earned a long vacation with her lover and fellow Shadow Wolf, Hunter, after the brutal wolf-like attacks that left New Orleans in an uproar. But when her team calls with news of vampire slayings, Sasha knows it’s only a matter of time before another war breaks out among the supernatural denizens of the world … The vampires are nobody’s ally, but the cold-hearted deaths of their own kind make them even more bloodthirsty than usual. But who is the culprit? With the Seelie and Unseelie courts claiming innocence and aligning together, Sasha’s team is at a loss. Until they discover that they’re facing ancient creatures from the depths of hell itself, bent on unleashing pure fury …  
 
The House on Durrow Street Galen Beckett [Spectra]
 
“A charming and mannered fantasy confection with a darker core of gothic romance” is how New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb described Galen Beckett’s marvelous series opener, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. Now Beckett returns to this world of dazzling magick and refined manners, where one extraordinary woman’s choice will put the fate of a nation—and all she cherishes—into precarious balance. Her courage saved the country of Altania and earned the love of a hero of the realm. Now sensible Ivy Quent wants only to turn her father’s sprawling, mysterious house into a proper home. But soon she is swept into fashionable society’s highest circles of power—a world that is vital to her family’s future but replete with perilous temptations.
Yet far greater danger lies beyond the city’s glittering ballrooms—and Ivy must race to unlock the secrets that lie within the old house on Durrow Street before outlaw magicians and an ancient ravening force plunge Altania into darkness forever.
 
Fangs for the Mammaries Esther Friesner [Baen]
 
Having inflicted the smug homes of suburbia with witches and werewolves. Esther Friesner now unleashes the undead to tap a vein of blood and humor, and drain the suburbs dry of both.
 
Vampires and the suburbs are a match made in heaven, or maybe Levittown. Remember Dracula? He didn’t run into any real problems until he took his act on the road and traveled to the Big City. But in the suburbs, everyone is polite and respectful of their neighbors’ right to privacy. And if your neighbors happen to have kids selling gift-wrap, magazine subscriptions, cookies, or other school fundraising ploys, and little Emily or Jason happen to come peddling their wares after sundown . . . Who says you have to stay in the city if you want good take-out meals delivered right to your door? There’s no one quite like a vampire for saying, “All of you kids get off of my lawn!” and putting some teeth into it.
 
The stories in these pages—by Sarah A. Hoyt, K.D. Wentworth, Dave Freer and more, including Esther Friesner herself—will convince the reader that vampires and suburbs go together like wine and cheese, gin and tonic, desperation and housewives, marriage and pre-nups. Enter freely and of your own will . . .
 
The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress) Rachel Aaron [Orbit]
 
Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king.
 
 
The Heir of Night: The Wall of Night Book One Helen Lowe [Eos]
 
If Night falls, all fall . . . In the far north of the world of Haarth lies the bitter mountain range known as the Wall of Night. Garrisoned by the Nine Houses of the Derai, the Wall is the final bastion between the peoples of Haarth and the Swarm of Dark—which the Derai have been fighting across worlds and time.
 
Malian, Heir to the House of Night, knows the history of her people: the unending war with the Darkswarm; the legendary heroes, blazing with long-lost power; the internal strife that has fractured the Derai's former strength. But now the Darkswarm is rising again, and Malian's destiny as Heir of Night is bound inextricably to both ancient legend and any future the Derai—or Haarth—may have.
 
Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles Merrie Destefano [Eos]
 
Welcome to your next chance. Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality. Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the human race—lies in the secrets locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie he must protect . . .
 
New in Sci-Fi
 
Star Wars: Dark Empire Trilogy HC Tom Veitch [Dark Horse Hardcover]
 
Six years after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, the battle for the galaxy's freedom rages on. The Empire has been mysteriously reborn under an unknown leader, wielding a new weapon of great power. Princess Leia and Han Solo struggle to hold together the New Republic while the galaxy's savior, Luke Skywalker, fights an inner battle as he is drawn to the dark side, just as his father... Collecting the complete Dark Empire saga for the first time - Dark Empire, Dark Empire II, and Empire's End - this Star Wars hardcover is a must-have addition to any Star Wars library!
 
Out of the Dark David Weber [Tor Hardcover]
 
The Galactic Hegemony has been around a long time, and it likes stability--the kind of stability that member species like the aggressive, carnivorous Shongairi tend to disturb. So when the Hegemony Survey Force encountered a world whose so-called "sentients"—"humans," they called themselves—were almost as bad as the Shongairi themselves, it seemed reasonable to use the Shongairi to neutralize them before they could become a second threat to galactic peace. And if the Shongairi took a few knocks in the process, all the better.
 
Now, Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, more than half the human race has died.
 
Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize scattered survivors without getting killed. And in the southeastern US, firearms instructor and former Marine Dave Dvorak finds himself at the center of a growing network of resistance—putting his extended family at lethal risk, but what else can you do?
 
On the face of it, Buchevsky’s and Dvorak’s chances look bleak, as do prospects for the rest of the surviving human race. But it may well be that Shongairi and the Hegemony alike have underestimated the inhabitants of that strange planet called Earth…
 
Engineman Eric Brown [Solaris]
 
Once they pushed big ships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum, but faster than light isn't fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undiclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph's future. What he cannot anticipate is its univerala importance-nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world 
 
Dreadnought Cherie Priest [Tor]
 
Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.
 
Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.
 
What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?
 
Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.
 
New in Horror
 
Blood Lite II: Overbite Kevin J. Anderson [Gallery]
 
From the Horror Writers Association comes a brand-new collection of darkly humorous tales! How far will an elite call girl go to beat a murder rap? Stuck with a dead client in a luxury L.A. hotel room, she might strike a costly bargain with a woman of unearthly powers in Allison Brennan’s "Her Lucky Day." Who actually writes those tabloid stories about Bigfoot? Meet a journalist of the unexplained (she’s 50 percent demon) and her boyfriend (he’s 100 percent thief), as they heat up a museum exhibition that’s also a soul-snatching battleground in "Lucifer’s Daughter" by Kelley Armstrong.
 
Jane and the Damned: A Novel Janet Mullany [Avon]
 
Aspiring writer Jane Austen knows that respectable young ladies like herself are supposed to shun the Damned—the beautiful, fashionable, exquisitely seductive vampires who are all the rage in Georgian England in 1797. So when an innocent (she believes) flirtation results in her being turned—by an absolute cad of a bloodsucker—she acquiesces to her family’s wishes and departs for Bath to take the waters, the only known cure.
 
But what she encounters there is completely unexpected: perilous jealousies and further betrayals, a new friendship and a possible love. Yet all that must be put aside when the warring French invade unsuspecting Bath—and the streets run red with good English blood. Suddenly only the staunchly British Damned can defend the nation they love . . . with Jane Austen leading the charge at the battle’s forefront.
 
Dark Harvest Norman Partridge [Tor]
 
Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.
 
Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror--and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . .
 
Handling the Undead John Ajvide Lindqvist [Thomas Dunne Hardcover]
 
In his new novel, John Ajvide Lindqvist does for zombies what his previous novel, Let the Right One In, did for vampires. Across Stockholm the power grid has gone crazy. In the morgue and in cemeteries, the recently deceased are waking up. One grandfather is alight with hope that his grandson will be returned, but one husband is aghast at what his adored wife has become. A horror novel that transcends its genre by showing what the return of the dead might really mean to those who loved them.
 
Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance Lori Perkins [St. Martins]
 
Romance ain't dead...it's undead. In this thrilling zombie anthology, horror fans will finally get their fill of zombie-on-zombie action, zombie-human love, and zombie smut. Because why should vampires have all the fun?
 
Lucifer's Lottery Edward Lee [Leisure Horror]
 
Theology student Hudson has just won the lottery, but not just any lottery-Satan's lottery. Only eleven people in all of human history have been so honored since Lucifer's fall from Heaven in 5318 B.C. All Hudson need do is say "yes," and he will receive an all-expenses-paid tour of Hell, and his tour-guide is the damned soul of H.P. Lovecraft, the greatest horror writer of all time...
And into the Abyss, Hudson ventures, to witness carnal pleasures that boggle the mind and horrors piled upon horrors within the smoking, screaming metropolis that is now Lucifer's domain. But will Hudson make the ultimate choice and disavow his salvation to become an aristocrat in Hell?
 
Reviews
 
Pariah Bob Fingerman (Tor TPB)
 
 
You wouldn’t figure Bob Fingerman to write a zombie novel. I mean here’s a guy that has worked on things as diverse as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to National Lampoon to the Village Voice. But zombies? Well if you’re familiar with Faingerman’s biting satire (no pun intended) he brings that to his own take on a zombie apocalypse. Darkly humorous and freight-train paced, Pariah is one of the best zombie novels of 2010.
 
A zombie plague has taken over the world with incredible speed and a near total extermination of the human race. Almost the entire city of New York has fallen prey to the zombies and there are only small pockets of humans surviving in boarded up apartment buildings. They eke out what passes for an existence but their supplies are running low. If only someone could get to the market that seems to mock them from the streets below. But hordes of zombies prowl about looking for their next meal. 
 
But then they notice a strange and wondrous site…a teenage girl, walking amongst the zombies without being attacked. In fact the zombies seem to go out of their way to avoid her. They get her attention and the teen named Mona, helps by bringing much needed supplies and moves in with the small group of survivors. But Mona’s ability to be avoided by zombies opens a number of questions. 
 
Fingerman’s tight writing focuses on the humans more than the zombies and manages to capture our interest with each of the diverse characters. How they relate to each other becomes far more interesting than how they survive and yet Fingerman never forgets the horror that overrides everything. Grade A

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