Shaun Jeffrey has put out an intriguing novella in Dead World that mixes zombies, the future and the past all mixed up for one interesting ride. The zombie apocalypse has occurred and while humanity survived it was at a cost of the majority of our species. With small bands of civilization left technology and the knowledge we have built over the years have fallen to the wayside and while some things still exist most of what we’ve developed is now long gone. Fast forward generations and where does that put us? Surviving in small bands and settlements across the last mostly self sustaining and unaware of one another’s existence let alone location. What person in their right mind would want to brave going out into a world full of the undead if they didn’t have to? Who would be stupid enough to?
As we enter the tale we are in the city of Sanctuary. It is a community that has been built as a place of safety for those who live within it’s walls. While the land is fertile their access to growing anything on it is limited and they can only sustain so many citizens. In a community that lives to it’s fullest capacity with technology long gone they have become slaves to ritual and with it slaves to the religion that dominates their society. As time has passed the idea of the living dead has changed in this community and the religion that lives within it has elevated the living dead from zombies to Gods as can’t only a God be truly immortal?
To fit this into perspective the citizens within this community can also be blessed into becoming a God. As a new child is born someone would have to leave for the land to be able to continue supporting the population. What better way than to be given the option to become immortal? A ceremony is performed and the chosen one is given up as a gift to the Gods to become one of the immortal. This has been going on for years until one day a young girl named Lucy is picked and her mother Anna quickly learns that the lottery system that is to be choosing a person by divine right is actually rigged as she had just angered the local priest, Roman, by ending an affair she was having with him.
To save her daughter from a fate she clearly shouldn’t not be living in she risks the life of herself and her two sons, leaving her husband and ex-lover behind, to save her daughter.
The plot itself and writing on this one are pretty rock solid. There was a couple transition scenes (say a scene with her younger son) that just felt rushed but aside from those I felt that descriptions, plot, and flow of the story all fit together perfectly. What I had issues with the entire time was ever really being able to connect with the mother. Some of what she did fit perfectly in line to save her daughter and felt like it made sense but some of what she held back from others to save face in her society didn’t feel that it fully meshed with how she was acting. That thought aside I really did enjoy the novella and suggest picking this one up for a different take on a world overrun with the undead.
Available on Amazon.