Double Dead (Tomes of the Dead)
by Chuck Wendig
Cover Artist: Pye Parr
Review by Drew Bittner
Abaddon Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781907992414
Date: 15 November 2011 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
What's a vampire to do? Rule number one: protect the food supply...
Vampire-as-protector has been done before, but not with quite the fascinating take Chuck Wendig brings in Double Dead. Coburn is a ruthless killer who has few redeeming qualities; he's the epitome of vampire as soulless murderer. Even so, he realizes that he cannot drink zombie blood ("double dead" referring to the useless quality of the stuff in their veins) and must, whether he likes it or not, defend the small group of living people he encounters.
So who does he throw in with? A band of mismatched survivors in an RV, heading west because of rumors of safety. (Isn't that always the way?) Kayla, a girl with unusual perceptions and a degenerative illness, is on Coburn's side, realizing that having a vampire on their side is a good thing; her father, Gil, and Gil's girlfriend Cecelia, are convinced he'll turn on them. Nurse Leelee and tubby driver Ebbie round out the survivors, who at first (grudgingly) agree to Coburn's terms but ditch him the first chance they get. (Heck, it's what I would have done.)
That's a bad move, though, as there are worse dangers on the road west than zombies. For instance, a fortified Wal-Mart full of cannibals, a farmhouse that's far less safe than advertised, and something truly horrifying at the end of the road (which I will not spoil here).
Through it all, Coburn relies on his certainty that he's the biggest, baddest monster in this zombie-ridden wasteland. But is he?
Wendig brings a gory gusto to his work here, pulling no punches in terms of language or characterization. Fans of truly visceral horror will find a lot to enjoy here, especially in his clash at Wal-Mart and his showdown with a group of powered-up zombies.
Coburn's antagonists are a great bunch, too, with the loathesome Grandpaw and his mountainous daughter Ambrosia; the well-named Thuglow and his gang of marauders; and the mutant zombies howling for Coburn's blood. It's a terrific line-up and Wendig uses them to great effect.
Double Dead is not for the meek or mild; this is real horror, not dark fantasy or some other subgenre. As part of the Tomes of the Dead series, this makes for some powerful reading. Fans of zombie fiction or "real" vampires should like this one a lot.