The Horror Zine Review
by David Youngquist
|Kindle: 314 KB
Publisher: Dark Continents (April 23, 2011)
by David Youngquist
Review by Dr. Kevin Hillman
At first glance, you’d think this was another zombie apocalypse story with the usual shambling corpses and armed villagers. Well, okay, it’s basically that kind of story but the zombies don’t shamble and the villagers sometimes run short of bullets. Underlying it is a tale of the changes in human society brought about by disaster, from the comfortable life of a small town to the almost medieval existence of an isolated fortified village. People change in Snareville and not all of them for the better.
In real life America, many people own guns but very few own enough to see off a horde of speedy corpses – especially when only a head shot will do the trick. Most people, even gun owners, would have to practice a lot more than they have to reach that kind of accuracy. In Snareville, the armament part of the realism lies in the wide range of incompatible ammunition held by the residents, the limited supplies of guns and ammunition and the consequent need to risk a trip into zombie territory in order to find more. In this story, there is no convenient lunatic in a cabin filled with more ordnance than the Marines. This is an ordinary town, in which nobody owns a tank.
The zombies are nicely created too. No shambling drunks in this story. The reanimated corpses are fast, although they slow down when their bodies start to decompose. What happens to them in winter is something so novel and original that I’m not going to spoil the surprise by saying it here. I’ll just say that the biological aspects of these zombies has been well thought out, as has their origin.
The zombies are not the only danger in Snareville. Roaming gangs of feral youngsters loot and pillage wherever they like, and unlike the zombies, they can be sneaky. They represent competition for food and resources, as well as a danger to the stability of the town, and have to be dealt with accordingly.
As the story progresses, we follow the descent of a small town from a quiet rural existence into something resembling a paramilitary encampment. Morals are not lost, but they change over time, adapted to the circumstances and in some cases, becoming necessarily brutal. In this world, a rapist cannot be let off with a fine and nobody has the time to run a prison.
The writing quality is excellent. I didn’t find a single typo or grammatical error to throw me out of the story. Something did make me uncomfortable but it took a while to realise what it was. The story starts and ends in first person but in the middle, there’s a switch to third person because the main character isn’t always present. It took two readings to find that because it’s done very smoothly and unless you read as a reviewer, I doubt many readers would spot it. Only one character – Danny – takes that first person perspective which is why it’s hard to notice the switch. It might even be a deliberate ploy to generate that feeling of unease in the reader, and if so, it works.
While the lead character, Danny, develops into the archetypal zombie battler, there are many secondary characters whose conversions are less predictable. The policeman who turns chicken farmer and midnight fisherman. The feral girl whose name changes from ‘Bitch’ to ‘Pepper’ as she grows into a responsible adult. The man who has to live with the knowledge that he shot his own daughter when she turned zombie, and who sees a cure developed too late. Real, believable people make the story. The zombies are the supporting cast, not the main event.
This is much more here than a simple ‘the dead walk – shoot them’ tale. Sure, there are gory parts but then it’s a story of survival, and survival isn’t always easy. The story tells it as it is, it’s not always pretty and humanity isn’t always noble. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale even though I’ve read and watched more zombie stories than you could shake a shotgun at. It’s always good to see one that’s just that bit different.
You need peace and quiet with no interruptions for this book. It’s fast and complex and has an awful lot of people (live ones and dead ones) running around. The story will drag you in and keep you there until the end.
Although I wouldn’t recommend reading it too late at night.
You can buy Snareville HERE.
About the author
D.M. Youngquist has had many jobs over the years; from horse trainer to painting contractor. Through the years, he has always had a passion for the written word. His first paid writing job was while he attended Western Illinois University, where he worked for the college paper. After graduation he freelanced between teaching gigs for places such as Carousel Horse News and Trader, American Hunter, and SHOOT! Magazine. He became bored with nonfiction, however, and turned to the dark side of fiction.
His first story, ’77 Coupe DeVille was published by the British webzine DarkefireUK in 2006. In 2007, his first collection of ghost stories was published by Quixote Press, followed in ’08 by his second. Frustrated with the publishing industry, he turned with five others and founded Dark Continents Publishing, in 2010. He currently serves as President and Publisher of DCP. He lives in Illinois with his wife and family.
About the reviewer
Dr. Kevin Hillman
Dr. Kevin Hillman has a PhD that allows him to play with deadly bacteria without supervision. Someone once thought it was a good idea to teach him this stuff, but he's dead now.
In between, Kevin writes and appears online as anyone but himself. His multiple personalities include the sensible and restrained Gutbugs and the sensible but volatile Romulus Crowe, as well as the militant Leg-iron and the utterly deranged Phineas Dume. That last incarnation writes articles fo AlienSkin magazine and takes the credit for most of the stories.
He has completed a novel called Samuel's Girl, an undersize novel called Jessica's Trap, and is also working on others.
Kevin's short stories have appeared in From The Asylum, AlienSkin, and other online venues. So far fame eludes him, which he doesn't mind. So does fortune, which he does mind. Money is the root of all evil so horror writers naturally require a lot of it. You know it makes sense.
Visit Phineas Dume HERE