A blockbuster portrayal of the zombie apocalypse and a fitting tribute to the genre’s imaginative progenitor.

THE LIVING DEAD

The last testament of the legendary filmmaker is a sprawling novel about the zombie apocalypse that dwarfs even his classic movie cycle.

Though this long-simmering novel was unfinished when Romero died in 2017, his estate turned its completion over to Kraus, an adept novelist and collaborator with Guillermo Del Toro. The result is a satisfying, terrifying chronicle of the zombie crisis that includes explosive set pieces and moving character beats in equal measure. Just before Halloween, the first cadaver appears in the lab of San Diego medical examiners Luis Acocella and Charlie Rutkowski, asking the pair “Shall we dance?” even as Charlie holds his heart in her hands. In rural Missouri, teenager Greer Morgan soon learns society’s rules have been drastically altered by the rise of the dead. The growing severity of the crisis is seen at a national television studio in Atlanta, where conceited anchor Chuck Corso finds the danger growing closer and closer. On the aircraft carrier USS Olympia, helmsman Karl Nishimura and pilot Jenny Pagán join forces when they’re trapped between the resurrected dead and the zealous chaplain convinced God wants him to lead a death cult. These harrowing survival stories are marked by cinematic spectacles—a bloody escape by jet fighter, a school shooting, and fragments told from the zombies’ point of view are among the memorable episodes—but Kraus injects a dramatic dose of human pathos into the mix as characters bond, fight for survival, and frequently die so that others may live. By the time these disparate characters converge in the last act after a significant time jump, readers will know them so well that each loss takes on more emotional weight. Less soapy than The Walking Dead and less inventive than Max Brooks’ World War Z, it’s still a spectacular horror epic laden with Romero’s signature shocks and censures of societal ills.

A blockbuster portrayal of the zombie apocalypse and a fitting tribute to the genre’s imaginative progenitor.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30512-1

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

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MEXICAN GOTHIC

Moreno-Garcia offers a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico.

Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Catalina lives in High Place, the Doyle family’s crumbling mansion near the former mining town of El Triunfo. In the letter, Catalina begs for Noemí’s help, claiming that she is “bound, threads like iron through my mind and my skin,” and that High Place is “sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment.” Upon Noemí’s arrival at High Place, she’s struck by the Doyle family’s cool reception of her and their unabashed racism. She's alarmed by the once-vibrant Catalina’s listless state and by the enigmatic Virgil and his ancient, leering father, Howard. Nightmares, hallucinations, and phantasmagoric dreams of golden dust and fleshy bodies plague Noemí, and it becomes apparent that the Doyles haven’t left their blood-soaked legacy behind. Luckily, the brave Noemí is no delicate flower, and she’ll need all her wits about her for the battle ahead. Moreno-Garcia weaves elements of Mexican folklore with themes of decay, sacrifice, and rebirth, casting a dark spell all the way to the visceral and heart-pounding finale.

Fans of gothic classics like Rebecca will be enthralled as long as they don’t mind a heaping dose of all-out horror.

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-62078-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot...

THE RULES OF MAGIC

The Owens sisters are back—not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Hoffman’s occult romance Practical Magic (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids.

In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character: their foxy younger brother, Vincent, whose “unearthly” charm sends grown women in search of love potions. Heading into the summer of 1960, the three Owens siblings are ever more conscious of their family's quirkiness—and not just the incidents of levitation and gift for reading each other's thoughts while traipsing home to their parents' funky Manhattan town house. The instant Franny turns 17, they are all shipped off to spend the summer with their mother's aunt in Massachusetts. Isabelle Owens might enlist them for esoteric projects like making black soap or picking herbs to cure a neighbor's jealousy, but she at least offers respite from their fretful mother's strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love. In short order, the siblings meet a know-it-all Boston cousin, April, who brings them up to speed on the curse set in motion by their Salem-witch ancestor, Maria Owens. It spells certain death for males who attempt to woo an Owens woman. Naturally this knowledge does not deter the current generation from circumventing the rule—Bridget most passionately, Franny most rationally, and Vincent most recklessly (believing his gender may protect him). In time, the sisters ignore their mother's plea and move to Greenwich Village, setting up an apothecary, while their rock-star brother, who glimpsed his future in Isabelle’s nifty three-way mirror, breaks hearts like there's no tomorrow. No one's more confident or entertaining than Hoffman at putting across characters willing to tempt fate for true love.

Real events like the Vietnam draft and Stonewall uprising enter the characters' family history as well as a stunning plot twist—delivering everything fans of a much-loved book could hope for in a prequel.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3747-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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