Michelle Lee

Skullvines Press
50 pages $14.95
Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn

In Rot, Michelle Lee gives the reader a near perfect zombie novella by mining the familiar territory of how society handles and disposes of its unwanted population. In 50 pages Ms. Lee injects hard won emotional impact, quiet pathos and biting social commentary into the sometimes sad fate of the recently dead but now newly risen zombie population.

Rot is told is told through the eyes of Dean, an ex-soldier now running security at a particularly successful and well run, and rather expensive zombie care facility. For the most part, his tasks involve monitoring the daily activities of staff and residents, making sure the zombies remain properly pacified with “food,” immediately stopping any incidents that might occur and covering up any aftermath in order to avoid negative public perception of zombies and the care facilities.

Most zombies have limited brainpower left and if they are clothed, fed regularly and treated humanely, will remain fairly docile. With proper scheduling, visits by former family or friends can even be arranged. However, as with the poor and aged today, most zombie residents are ignored and, even though they seem to lack more than basic motor skills, many zombies appear bored or lonely as they slowly rot away.

Once in a while, however, a member of the recently resurrected retains nearly all of their previous memories and emotions to the extent that, except for slow physical decay, these zombies actually seem alive – at times even more so than the staff handling their care. The plot in Ms. Lee’s tale revolves around Amy, one of these exceptional zombies and what happens when the money for her care is cut off and how Dean digs into the ugly truth behind the façade of zombie care.

Gore and horror abound in Rot, but what makes the narrative truly exceptional is the heart and soul Ms. Lee pours into all her characters, particularly into the relationship that develops between Dean and Amy. Readers will truly care what happens to both of them in world where interpersonal relationships among the living are emotionally cold and distant. Part mystery, part zombie horror, and part romance, Rot should appeal to a wide audience and will win Ms. Lee many readers.

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