Joe & Me is short on purpose. A chapbook, and all-but-in-name a prequel to David Moody’s excellent Autumn series, it packs a great punch in those thirty-seven pages.

Simon Huxtable stays at home to care for his son Joe, while his wife Gill slaves away at the lab on the Airborne Defence Program. When the military cuts her off and launches the program without properly testing it, she does her best to fix the problem…

The Good: Moody’s prose is downright charming, and the relationship between Joe and his dad rings true. Any human being on the planet can relate to someone in this short, personal, three-character story.

The terror in this book is understated but very real. The tension builds throughout, and you know but struggle against the inevitable end.

The pacing is slow, but I chalk this up to a cultural difference. A Yankee myself, I read a lot of American and a lot of UKanian horror (yes, I just said “UKanian”, and I’m sticking with it!), and in general the latter tends to have a slower, more subtle vibe to it. American audiences tend to prefer to get kicked in the teeth on every page. My take is that our friends across the Pond have it right, at least as far as Moody is concerned.

The Bad: The transition from “then” to “now” was a little jarring. At first I thought it was a grammatical error, but it became clear that it wasn’t. I’m still not sure whether or not this was a mistake, or utter brilliance.

The Ugly: The ending is abrupt–as a stand-alone story it’s far too abrupt. It begs, screams, shrieks for you to pick up the rest of the series… So, not so ugly after all, because you should.

The Verdict: A great short story from one of the better zombie authors out there. Grab it, and grab up the rest of the Autumn series while you’re at it.

Available at This Is Horror.

About Patrick Freivald

Patrick Freivald is a high school teacher (physics, robotics, and American Sign Language), beekeeper, author, and coach of an award-winning competition robotics team. He lives in rural Western New York with his lovely wife and far, far too many animals.