Once, when I was a boy, my parents decided that a family viewing of George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, and its sequel, “Dawn of the Dead”, might be a good way to pass a stormy summer night. That ill-advised evening left quite an impression — a bite mark, even — on my young, impressionable mind.
Zombies horrified me, so naturally, I went in search of more of them — not just on-screen, but on the printed page, too. Zombie horror stories in the mold of Romero’s silver screen cannibal apocalypse were hard to find, so when I discovered John Skipp and Craig Spector’s groundbreaking 1989 anthology The Book of the Dead at my local Waldenbooks, I was ecstatic.
Here was a collection unlike anything I had ever read. The book featured plenty of gut-gnashing horror stories, but lots more, besides: post-modern zombie hipsters, zombies in space, even zombie gross-out humor. I read it several times through before I made the mistake of loaning it to a friend who never returned it to me. (The same person also kept my Entertech Uzi water gun. Brian, if you’re reading this, I want my toys!)
Although I’d never see my copy of The Book of the Dead again, I never forgot the stories. Over the years, I’ve read through a lot of zombie novels — some good, some bad — looking for similar thrills. Here are my recommendations for must-reads, especially if you’re just getting into the genre.
Got some suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments section.