BOOK REVIEW: DEAD OF NIGHT BY JONATHAN MABERRY
by OBS Staff member Rose
Dead of Night, by New York Times bestselling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry, is a rock solid zombie thriller that will change the way you view stories about the walking undead.
The first chapter, which is all of six words long…“This is how the world ends.”…is poignantly simplistic. What follows next is anything but.
Maberry, in his typical nail-biting ferocity, weaves an intricate tale of human suffering, anxiety, death, medical monstrosities and all out warfare, from a simple bite from a dead death row inmate, Homer Gibbons, who is set to be buried in the ground in a small town in Stebbins County, Pennsylvania.
The first to be bitten is Doc Hartnup, a mortician at the local funeral home, and what makes his new acquired state different than your “normal” zombie is that he realizes he is mercilessly trapped in his own body and is aware of EVERYTHING. Maberry states he gave Harnup this voice to become a point-of-view character that allows us to see into the heart of the tragedy.
Unlike the typical zombie fare that we are used to, Dead of Night deals with many other issues besides the looming threat of all the characters becoming something as simple as a McZombie meal. There is deadly mutating worm-like virus coursing through the blood of a fully functioning undead a death row inmate on the loose, whose only desire is to infect others, and it’s clear a full-blown epidemic has descended upon this rural Pennsylvania town.
Having to deal with this newfound horror in Stebbins County is a plethora of interesting characters such as Desdemona Fox, a tough as nails cop, with a military background, who is described as “Genghis Khan with ample boobs”. She lands herself in the hot seat as a murder suspect when no one believes her story about what is happening in town. Billy Trout, Dez’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, whose nose for news leads him to track down the story behind Homer Gibbons and Doctor Herman Voker, the German scientist, the man behind the unspeakable cocktail of death bestowed upon Gibbons.
What makes this novel special is if you replaced Maberry’s “zombies” with any other foreign entity the story works. Why? Because it is about the human condition when dealing with outside forces that are beyond our control. It is how people treat each other, try to save one another, or use each other for self-preservation.
This is not to say horror fans will be disappointed. Au contraire, Dead of Night is the best type of zombie novel, for not only is it filled with suspense and horrific concoctions of death, it begs many questions such as …How do you describe what you see to others who doubt you? How do you contain the spread of disease? How do you stay alive? Whom can you trust? What is right and just and what is merciful? It is impossible to walk away from this book and not have felt something for every scenario and character presented to us.
Take stories such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, to which Maberry dedicated the novel; mix it with the film Contagion, 28 Days Later and the series The Walking Dead and you have an idea of what to expect from Dead of Night.
Having been a fan of Jonathan Maberry since “Patient Zero”, and religiously reading each follow up to the Joe Ledger series, I was well aware of Maberry’s masterful skill of weaving deliciously intricate tales of zombie macabre, so action-packed one could read an entire novel in one sitting. However, I was taken aback by the fact Maberry surpassed all of my expectations with Dead of Night, and it truly is one of the best zombie novels out there today.
Get your hands on a copy!
You can also check out our interview with Jonathan Maberry, which includes many insights into the story of Dead of Night.