Welcome to the third installment of First Time Dead. Each of these writers has something in common with Robert Kirkman, Max Brooks, and Brian Keene…they are now published writers in the zombie universe. As hard as it may be to believe, even those three previously mentioned authors once lived in obscurity. One day, somebody read their work and believed in them…
Stories by Sybil Wilen, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson, PJ Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, and Graeme Edwardson and edited by TW Brown with cover artist Shawn Conn.
It is wonderful to see a small press like May December Publications (MDP) attracting great new talent to the horror genre. Most people who know MDP think of zombies first because they’ve produced several quality zombie novels and anthologies, and this one is no different. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire anthology, each story having its strong points. I’d even go as far as to say this one was better than First Time Dead 1 & 2, which both were quite entertaining. Despite liking all the stories, I did have my favourites – ones that actually had me discussing them with friends and family:
Zombie Love – by Sibyl Wilen – What a great intro for the anthology. I found it really got me into the zombie mindset. I loved the presentation of the characters, the perspective of the tale and the format as a whole. It made me eager to read on.
The Bittersweet Revenge of Coney Island’s Jack Blast Off – by Jeffrey McDonald – I was sucked in by the rich background story to this tale and developed a genuine fondness for the protagonist and his eccentric uncle. The zombies were only a small part of the plot, in my opinion, and they certainly weren’t the villains here, but that didn’t diminish the story any.
Graceland – by John Page – I’m a fan of a good zomedy, and this story rates that title. Despite being caustic in places and over the top in others, it was a romping fun tale falling somewhere between Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. I did take issue with the outlandish ending, considering the age of the icon involved, but my husband convinced me it would be within the realm of possibility, even if farfetched.
The Revenant – by David Alexander – My top pick, with an elaborate post-apocalyptic society, interesting characters, a strong build up to a twist ending, and all-in-all a well-constructed story. It chilled me and disturbed me.
MDP certainly has a knack for interesting and exciting zombie stories. I’d definitely recommend this anthology to genre fans.