By Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks
Kindle edition: ASIN: B00BWCTB28
March 2013; $14.95 PB/$8.24 Kindle
Reviewed by David A. Riley
This is the third in the Dead Earth series and, though I have not read any of the previous books, I found it incredibly easy to catch up with what had gone before. So ably have the authors provided enough of the back story that this can easily read as a stand alone volume, though I admit, having finished it, I could certainly go back and read the earlier ones too!
As in any good zombie story, the undead are merely a backdrop, a raison d’etre for the situation in which the human characters have found themselves. Their life stories, fears, oddities, ambitions, prejudices, their all too human fallibilities are what the story is all about, and in this the authors succeed with deceptive ease, creating an interesting cast, from the meek, frightened cook, Nestor, to the psychotically damaged army bad ass, Salina, who for the first half of the book is the main villain, with her gang of deranged killers.
The main group with whom the book is concerned is headed by Jubal Slate from the earlier novels. They brush up against Salina’s gang and in the interplay of action that follows it becomes obvious that a deadly confrontation is almost certainly going to erupt between them – perhaps too obviously, as in this book nothing can be taken for granted, and villains one minute can become, if not perhaps heroes the next, certainly something less villainous, especially when pitted against enemies far worse than shambling zombies or sociopathic gang bangers.
It is a fast paced book and the dangers rarely let up for a paragraph. We are told that in the previous books the zombie threat was created by a race of invaders from another dimension known as the necros as a means to conquer the earth. This plan has already been thwarted by the time Dead Earth: Sanctuary begins, but the enemy has not given up yet. Instead they have sent a demonic creature to kill their chief enemy, Jubal Slate. Unaware of the threat, Jubal is leading the remnants of his group in search of what may be a mythical place called Sanctuary where, he has heard, there are no zombies and his people can live secure from danger. Even though he is still skeptical about it, it is nevertheless the best of all options open to them and, while handing en route the machinations of Salina and her gang and the threats from a deranged serial killer, not to mention the ever present zombie threat, Jubal takes his group to Sanctuary – which is when things become even more perilous for them all. The book surges on to some startling twists and an apocalyptic climax.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with plenty of action and a cast of well drawn and, for the most part, sympathetic characters.