Book covers


    Zombie Bites

    Edited by David Saunderson.
     Red Rattle Books £7.99.

Hard copy and Kindle versions are available in the UK and Europe from October 2014.
Kindle price to be announced.

Nobody likes having their brains eaten by a stranger but, as nihilistic metaphor, zombies are irresistible.  Zombie fiction confirms adolescent despair, the belief that teenage fate consists of struggle and decay in a world corrupted by people that the young have no intention of becoming.  If that does not justify the genre, zombies warn against the appetites of the modern world.  Few zombies articulate the nature of their existence but three in Zombie Bites somehow manage to communicate.  They all describe their sudden hunger.

Marxists claim that capitalism does not eradicate poverty but ensures it always exists no matter how much is consumed.  Hunger becomes never ending.   Not all the zombie stories in Zombie Bites are as political as the classic films of George A Romero.  But the distaste for modern capitalism is obvious in Zombie Telephone Call and A Window And A Meeting Room. Even die hard neo-liberals, though, will be seduced.  Zombie Telephone Call is very funny and has a sting in the ending that is nothing to do with politics.  A Window And A Meeting Room challenges assumptions about human nature.

Zombie Bites contains 19 stories.  Between every couple of stories there are interludes called Zombie Nibbles.  Each Nibble is no more than a 100 words but they are a pleasant bonus to the stories and help the reader turn the page.  The Nibbles offer some surprises.  I never thought I would read a zombie story about Penelope Cruz.  But Zombie Bites offers much more than a light-hearted swipe at celebrity.  Even zombies, themselves, are not forgotten, and A Guide To Attaining Zombie Zen is an amusing self-help guide that all zombies should read.

The stories are often told in a taut prose with an emphasis on sharp dialogue, but there is no set model for the anthology.   Original and worthwhile, Zombie Bites has a wide range of themes and contains some very good writing.

Zombie Bites has a tougher edge than Dracula’s Midnight Snacks, which is the Red Rattle Books vampire equivalent to this collection.  Digger describes in detail an afflicted and confused but sympathetic male desperately fighting zombies.  The story Digger is not typical of the other stories in the collection. Elsewhere, the violence is kept under control.  In some of the stories there is no violence at all. 

The authors in Zombie Bites provide different interpretations of the zombie form.   The three articulate zombies survive on the cusp between zombiedom and humanity.  The anthology includes references to the modern world, both Europe and the USA, and the past.  Bills Of Mortality, Wages Of Sin and The Deviants occur in a medieval and Church dominated Britain and provide heroes very different to the punks of modern zombie fiction although Mortality echoes a modern thriller.  Treacle is very different and unusual and, though restrained, is rooted in an idea intended to shock. 

Zombie Bites is less cohesive than Dracula’s Midnight Snacks because the stories are so diverse.  It should satisfy, though, the appetites of all zombie fans.

By Irene Keith.