Where the Dead Talk, by Ken Davis , takes a look at how the zombie apocalypse (on a small scale) might affect the residents of colonial America. Integrating Native American rituals, Revolutionary tensions, and the love and loss all humans recognize, the book explores more than a simple zombie story. As any good zombie book should, the lives and thoughts of the living, not the dead, are at the forefront.
The time period is the United States, just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Men are forming militias and going to fight while stockpiles of guns and weapons are being created in secret places away from British eyes. One weapon stockpile’s creation claims the life of a young man, leading his father to meddle in dark magic to assuage his grief. Thomas, a young boy that looks up to his brother and father tremendously, witnesses the dark magic of the lake as he finds out that the body they put in the lake days ago suddenly shows up outside their house, whispering for them to come outside. Narrowly escaping with his life, he finds that his Uncle has been attacked by the monster as well and leaves to try to find help.
A company of British soldiers led by Major Pomeroy is looking for the weapons stockpile when they come across a house that appears empty. Upon closer inspection, they realize that something horrible and otherworldly happened here. Pomeroy and a few of his men barely escape and meet Thomas, who tells them all he knows. Most people dismiss the rumor of the dead rising, but as more and more people go missing and return to whisper to their loved ones in the night, the story becomes harder to disbelieve. With zombies running amok, an old Native American trying to right the dark magic, and one of the few people alive to help stop the curse having to run from the militias, Thomas is in over his head and needs all the assistance he can get.
This book caught my attention because of the time period. I had never read any zombie lit that wasn’t based in the future or present, so it was nice to read a historical fiction with the living dead. The zombie creation/disease spread method is quite interesting, involving a darkly enchanted lake and the transfer of black zombie blood.
The juxtaposition o f the problems of a zombie outbreak along with the suspicions and tense nature of a pre-war situation make for a lot of problems, distrust, and a generally good story arc throughout the novel. There is lots of action, including everything from Native American rituals to a horde of zombies commandeering a cannon and firing it at the living. The ending is satisfying, with both a settling and disturbing sensation created at the same time.
The book is interesting because of how it looks at the minorities of the time period and puts them forth as the heroes. Women, a black man, a young boy that couldn’t fight in the war, two Native Americans and a defecting British solider are the only ones that can stop the plague from spreading further and end the catastrophe. There is a love story, pain of loss, and the problems of trusting one’s enemy in a time of need to keep the living elements of the story interesting. To me, it’s quite important to not feel like you want the zombies to win when it comes to zombie lit, and this book definitely makes you root for the living.
I recommend this to anyone that likes historical fiction with a twist, any fantasy lover, or anyone looking for a unique read that is well worth the $3.99 Kindle price tag.
Speculative Fiction Challenge – Book # 10