I’m not an avid reader of zombie fiction. I do enjoy the genre but feel I need to pace myself with it as many of the stories in this world tend to be a little samey.
Thankfully, that cannot be said about this book.
I never knew I was such a fan of historical fiction! The setting here, the 1340s, is perfectly executed. The prose describes this time brilliantly and a lot of research has obviously gone into this.
But what I really enjoyed was the fresh take on the zombie genre. With many contemporary undead tales, the characters kind of know about zombies and how to kill them. But here, the word zombie isn’t mentioned once (I don’t think). These rotting, mutilated, walking dead monstrosities are referred to as The Mortecarni.
We follow Brother Maurice, a monk who is also a medical man; able to treat patients’ ailments of both a physical and spiritual nature. Certainly a handy dude to have around the place.
As the plagues (the Black Death one and the zombie one) arrive, Maurice is sent first to the Pope, and then the King of England to help find a cure for these terrible afflictions.
Of course, as Bro Maurice journeys to various villages and towns to try and heal the infected, he has to do his fair share of decapitations, as this is the one known way to defeat the beasts. He turns from a peaceful guy into a highly efficient zombie killing machine faster than a certain Ash does!
As the story progresses he learns of a cure, but finding the details of this proves more than a little difficult.
As mentioned earlier, the undead rising to bite and infect the living is a totally new concept to the characters in this book. Of course we, the readers know what’s going on, but there’s never a sense of “Oi, idiots, they’re zombies; shoot em in the head,” creeping into the reading experience. The nature of the storytelling really makes you empathise with their medieval ignorance.
If you like zombies but feel there’s nothing that new in the genre these days, this is definitely a book you should be checking out.
Categories: book review