Book Review: Nights of the Living Death: An Anthology

I came across this book at the library and was interested for two reasons. First, I went through a phase of obsessing about zombies (mostly in video games and movies, but also the occasional book). Second, this is a collection of short stories picked by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero, the filmmaker for Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and many more. So, if he edited this anthology, it must be good, right?

Very, very wrong.

Release: July, 2017

Synopsis: This is a collection of short horror stories all centering around zombies. This Anthology holds nineteen short stories, all from established horror authors.

Review

Before I get into this review, I have to admit this book falls in my DNF pile. I only made it through the first six of the nineteen stories. So my review is going to be directed to the earlier short stories. For all I know, some of the later short stories were better, but the first six I disliked so much I saw no reason to continue. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get into my review.

These short stories weren’t really interesting to me. Most of them follow one character during the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Except all the protagonists seem incredibly similar. The details may be different, but they are all rather horrible, selfish people. You won’t find this book filled with short stories of moving narratives of zombie survivors. Instead, these authors use the zombie apocalypse to demonstrate the evil of humanity. None of the characters are trying to protect those they care about or show introspection of their situation. Instead, the stories focus merely on the killing, cruelty, and animalistic emotions of the characters. Because of that, I was rather disappointed by this book.

If you do not enjoy people swearing frequently, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! I myself don’t mind occasional swearing employed to increase intensity, characterize a person, or add shock to a scene. But when it is used so frequently, it takes away any punch it had and makes the dialogue feel predictable and boring.

Personally, the first short story was my favorite, titled “Dead Man’s Curve” by Joe R. Lansdale. It follows a brother and sister who are racing cars when the apocalypse starts and they actually help an elderly woman and her grandkids, which is nice. I still didn’t like any of the characters, but at least they weren’t horrible. But all the stories got worse and worse after that.

They weren’t horribly written stories, though. The action was interesting, the descriptions weren’t extraordinary but they weren’t terrible, and there were some almost interconnecting themes throughout the stories. But none of the stories jumped out at being extremely well-written either. I don’t read tons of short stories, but I’ve read my fair share and, honestly, a lot of short stories are very predictable.

Yes, there are famous classic short stories (like “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe) which stand out in my mind, but because you don’t get a chance to really get to know these characters, you have nothing to connect to them. I didn’t care what was happening. One person died, and I just shrugged and continued. I’m not against short stories, horror or otherwise, I just think short stories are rather difficult to write well. But then so are books, though for different reasons.

I probably should have stuck with this book until the end, because for all I know there could have been so provoking, brilliant short stories later on in the book, but I just couldn’t.

Do you have any favorite short horror stories? What do you think of anthologies in general? Also, do you know of any great zombie novels or short stories? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Nights of the Living Death: An Anthology

  1. That’s too bad this anthology was a disappointment. With Romero involved I would have thought it’d be fantastic. I love reading short stories (and writing them too). My favourite short story writers are Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and indie author P.J. Blakey-Novis. As for a great zombie read, check out ‘Hyenas’ by Michael Sellars (I have a review & interview with the author on my blog if you’re interested).

    Liked by 1 person

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