Season of Rot: Five Zombie Novellas
Eric S. Brown
Permuted Press, Trade, $14.95
Review by Nickolas Cook
Just when you think the market couldn’t dare hold the weight off yet another zombie book, Eric S. Brown comes along and makes it feel new and fun again. Seriously, this was one hell of a great read. I wanted it to keep going.
Brown knows his way around the zombie film genre. Within the five novellas presented in Season of Rot (Season of Rot, The Queen, The Wave, Dead West, and The Rats) you have nods from everything from Romero’s undead to Bruno Mattei’s cheapjack flesh eaters. There’s even a little nod to Grau’s masterpiece “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.” But don’t get me wrong: these are not your normal shambling piles of hungry R-jelly monsters, folks. No, these zombies are super-charged, gun-toting, clever as hell creatures intent on using the last of mankind as food (see The Queen as to how they plan to do so) or simply just to eradicate them.
Brown knows what works best in zombie fiction: gore, isolation, siege fighting and survival mentality. And no one is safe in his story. You think you know who will make it through each story, but you don’t. Brown manages to give his readers enough twist and turns and originality, in a sub-genre of fiction that feels quite frankly as if it will never die a good death, to keep you turning the pages. In short, he gives his reader the unexpected.
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I think a good novella is extremely difficult to pull off. Here, Brown does it not once, but five times. Each one of these little jewels would have been worth the cover price, but Permuted Press gives us five outstanding examples of not only great novella writing (pacing, dialogue, and well drawn out characters in a limited amount of space), but every one is also some of the best zombie fiction I’ve read in ages (not since Brian Keene’s masterwork, “The Rising”). Why this guy hasn’t found big house success yet, is a mystery to me. Hey, Leisure! How about calling this guy and getting a full blown zombie manuscript from him?
Given what I’ve read in Season Of Rot I expect Brown in the next few years is going to kick horror butt and take names.