Some reviewers begin with a kind of mental checklist when reading a novel. The list might include fully realised characters, believable and engaging situations, elegant prose, perhaps a little social commentary or satire in the subtext. Well, forget all that. Sam Stone has her own checklist:
â€¢ Zombies (lots) tick
â€¢ Action (non-stop) tick
â€¢ Gore (truckloads) tick
â€¢ Steampunk gadgets tick
â€¢ Feisty heroine (with machine gun) tick
â€¢ Mad inventor tick
She throws in a solar powered laser pistol, a hot-air balloon and several other treats for good measure.
If youâ€™ve read Capoteâ€™s ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’, it wonâ€™t make any difference â€“ a couple of the names are similar and itâ€™s set in that shop, but it takes place in a different century and the characters have no real relation to Capoteâ€™s – itâ€™s really only starting point for Ms. Stone to construct her own zombie steampunk civil war era funfest. Itâ€™s as though Capoteâ€™s original has been disembowelled by a zombie horde and a strange, misshapen version of it has opened its dead eyes and shuffled onto our bookshelves.
From the description and the cover, youâ€™d expect this to be trashy nonsense, and it is, but that doesnâ€™t matter â€“ itâ€™s also great fun. I laughed aloud several times and I award Ms. Stone extra marks for sheer audacity.
The prose is readable, coherent and unpretentious â€“ itâ€™s a way of getting the action across without any superfluous style. Likewise the characters â€“ they exist to kill zombies, get eaten or move the plot along without any of that annoying depth that might slow things down.
Ms. Stone revels in blood-soaked excess and invites us to the party, asking very little in return. This is a jolly way to spend a couple of hours and it will delight fans of zombie fiction everywhere.