What does travelling in outer space, visiting babies at the hospital and eating KFC at the mall all have in common?  Give up?  They are all ideal locations for flesh eating zombies to infiltrate- that’s what!  In her work, The Dead Wake Anthology, author Ellie Douglas presents 10 very imaginative and perfectly creepy tales of the undead.  If you are a fan of horror and the zombie genre, then this collection of stories is absolutely a must read!

There can be little doubt that zombies are a popular topic in this day and age.  You see books, television shows and movies about them popping up all the time.  However, to actually write engaging zombie stories is no easy feat.  Anybody can compose a blood and gore story… but the great writers do it in a way that captivate and engage the reader.  That is exactly what Ellie Douglas accomplishes in her tales.

Great horror stories always have key elements such as mystery, suspense, fear and foreshadowing.  When composing zombie tales, the author must include all of those elements of horror, but also pay very close attention to other traits as well.  For instance, characters must be fully developed in order to establish a connection with the reader.  Also, the setting is critical as it helps to establish an atmosphere or “zombie world” which feels real.  If the story feels fake or forced, it will instantly turn the reader off.  Add some original and innovative ideas to this mix and you will have yourself a top-notch creation.  In fact, what you have is the Dead Wake Anthology by Ellie Douglas!

As the anthology actually contains ten tales, it is difficult to provide a summary for them all.  Nevertheless, there is basically something here for every fan of the genre.  From outer space zombies to little “coo coo” baby zombies.  There are prostitute zombies for the adult crowd and even senior citizen rest home zombies.  I think you get the picture!  However, what makes this work so very impressive is that it is about much more than just blood and gore.  While there is certainly no shortage of carnage in the tales, Douglas makes it all fit nicely into well laid out and descriptive stories.  For instance, in the very short amount of space allotted to the short story format, the author is able to depict characters who quickly develop through the tales and are relatable to the reader.  Through the death and destruction you will feel pride and empathy for Ichabod Davenport at the rest home and pure disgust and disdain for Rene Hefter at the Playhood Club.  This is not an easy task to accomplish so quickly and the author more than capably achieves it.

As mentioned, for the reader to “buy into” the story and its premise, the world which is created by the author must be convincing.  Otherwise the book will be closed in very short order, never to be picked up again!  Once more, Douglas aptly accomplishes this very challenging task.  Perhaps the best evidence of this is in the tale, “Flesh Eaters”, which takes place on the subway.  The setting is depicted in such a way that the reader actually feels as if they are on the subway with Darren!  It is entirely believable and incredibly eerie at the same time.  To be able to use the setting in this succinct yet effective way, without long drawn out passages, is a writing talent in itself.

To write good horror is a very challenging task.  There are so many elements which are involved.  If any of those are neglected, the work will suffer as a result.  It is the authors who understand this fact that truly succeed in the genre.  Blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore will never flourish.  The reading audience is too intelligent for that.  Add the zombie component to the mix and it becomes even more complicated.  In the Dead Wake Anthology, Ellie Douglas presents a series of tales which virtually personify great horror writing.  They are fun…yet terrifying.  Fascinating…yet hideous.  This is an author who certainly knows how to weave her craft.  I believe she could take any of these short tales and turn them into a full-length book.  Also, I could see some of these tales on the big screen as they are bound to engage the audience.  Speaking of audience- due to some scenes which are drenched in sexuality, this work would be recommended for adult and up.

5 Ghastly Stars for this one!