Jack Barnes is no ordinary zombie. He can think, but more importantly, he can write. He is sure that the human race and the zombie race can live together peacefully and so he sets out on a cross country adventure to find Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie curse.

Along the way, Jack meets a group of “super” zombies who can run like the wind and reattach decaying appendages among other skills. Together they embark on an epic quest for zombie equality!

Start reading now…

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A Treatise Concerning the Superiority and Presence of Fear Inescapable of the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens Vampirus Viralis over that Most Inferior and Oddly shaped sub-Species of Canis Familiaris, the Dachshund.

Part the First – Preliminaries

Born from Imaginations bred in thoughts Apocalyptick, with no Little reliance upon the World at its End and the ultimate Extinction of our own and noble Homo sapiens sapiens, the presence of Homo sapiens sapiens vampirus viralis in the Literature and Moving Pictures (a most Noble enterprise in the history of our Telling of Stories, it must be said) is both New and all but Methuselan. We have here Stories of Terror and great Fear stemming from our Own innate Horror at the presence or possible Invasion of Toxick substances, whether of Biologickal or Chemickal origin, within our own Bloodstream, changing and Mutating our own Physickal manifestations.

The stories Stem, at their earliest, with the Fear inherent in the disease of Syphilis, largely brought to Us by the ravings of a Drunken, bearded man of Hibernian origin (though, it must be Said, he did spend a Great deal of his Time within the confines of his Saxon masters) in his Seminal Book of Terror, Dracula. This is, Of course, Bram Stoker. Diseases of the Blood, in this case an entirely Physickal terror, ran rampant and Untended in Stoker’s imagination and provided the Impetus, or as his Hibernian forefathers described in that most Noble yet positively Unreadable and Unpronounceable Celtick language, Gaeilge, the fáth airicc, an Untranslatable Linguistick term that we might Render as cause of composition. Stoker, and Rightly so, saw Syphilis sive morbus gallicus, which damages the heart, Aorta, brain, eyes, and Bones if left untreated, a perfect Impetus, causing, as it did, a great Number of men and women both Illness and Death and the time of his Writing. The Disease was horror enough, and yet Stoker brought it to his Writing through the unnatural Physickal manifestation of a Folklorick monster and a Prince of Wallachian origin, whose Violence and Inhumanity are Well known in books of History and do not bear Repeating here.

The Character of Count Dracula is the first major Metaphorick representation, and I thank here Aristotle for his Brilliant categorizing and Classification of the Metaphor, of human Disease as a Terrible and Ignoble fictional disease, which we now label Vampirism. Yes, arguments could be Made for the writings of another Hibernian, Le Fanu, and we Must wonder here about the Obsession with several Irish writers and this Horrific Subject, but I leave that for the World of Academe and its Ivory Tower of Ignorance, tea, and musty Old robes reeking of the most vicious of Human humours. I will not Focus on the Folklorick origins of Vampirism here; many books and other Media exist solely for this Purpose, I raise the issue only as it was Stoker’s fáth airicc, and that the notion that Vampires are viral and Representative of concepts Medical, regardless of their Supernatural origin, is nothing New to the world of Vampirick fiction. Today we are Faced with similarly Horrible and Brutal diseases, some of Origins sexual, some not, and this is Reflected in vampiric Fiction of late.

That syphilis is a disease of the Sexual humours should not go Unnoticed, and nor has it or the Obvious sexual Metaphor of the vampire Itself. Again, I leave these Musings to Others, and will state Here only that the Metaphor of diseases Sexual is a Primary foci of the fictionalized Homo sapiens sapiens vampirus viralis, though is by no Means, the only one, especially in Days like our own where Diseases of all Manner and Origin fly through the air, Live in both our Solid and liquid Nourishments, come to us through touch, and these not Limited to touches Sexual, and through all the Humours contained within our Earthly forms. Their Results are likewise Kaleidoscopick and Varied, presenting all Manner of horror within Fiction.

Before I Ruminate on a later book of viral Vampiric fiction, this one from only the Last Century, rather than the late Victorian Period, I would like to spend some Small time on the Subject of the ignoble Dachshund. I speak, of course, Only about its Inferiority as Comparison to the Monstrous subject Above, for the Dachshund does Hold a Purpose, even if this has largely been Abandoned, and to be far more Frank, thrown to the Winds in the face of Modernity and dwelling in Homes of Steel and glass. The Dachshund was Raised for the Killing and rendering into Pulps viscous and Pulsing of Meles meles, and at a Later time, of Taxidea taxiswhen it was First introduced to the New World and the Colonies contained Therein, and Also, it must be noted, of Rattus rattusand Rattus norvegicusthroughout the World. In brief, the Dachshund was Raised for the express purpose of Killing and hunting both badgers and rats; the etymological origins of its Subspecies of Canis familiarisinclude both the Terms badgerand hound, and the Creature was bred to destroy bottom and Underground dwellers. It is a Chthonic hunter, hence, I hope you See, oh Noble Reader, its Falling from grace to what is Largely considered to be one of the Cutest of dogs, rather than as a Destroyer of Vermin, living as it does in what are now mainly Urban domiciles.

Fear and viciousness are Not at all mentioned in discussions of the Dachshund, favouring instead the Squealing and incessant Petting by their Owners of one the more Amusing examples of the species. It is difficult for me to Fathom how the presecnce of a such a Comickal creature could Incite feelings of anything but Glee and gaiety, and certainly not Terror. While I will speak at a later Time more of its Physickal inferiority, even within a Fictional context, compared to the viral Vampire, I ask you to Ruminate and consider something as Basick as Size. I would consider it completely Natural (or even Supernatural, if you will Allow me the Indiscretion) for an example of Homo sapiens sapiens vampirus viralisto waste not a Moment’s time, if it found Itself faced with even a Pack of Dachshunds, to break them as One might a Christmas cracker, and adorn themselves with their Skulls and spines, as we might adorn cloth of Great value, or even a Sock.

First there was The Strain, now it’s The Passage.

My friends on this blog are scared to read both after dark. Why? Because of the viral vampires contained within the pages of the above.

To that I say, in the eloquent words of Deanna: pffft.

So, in a mini (un) Death-Match round, David S. Ward will be defending these so-called menaces. I’m putting aside werewolves this round to contend that there is another creature, dear to my heart, that could open up a can of Whoop Ass™ on these new fiends: dachshunds.

That’s right. Because after having recovered recently from another virus called conjunctivitis or, in laymen’s terms, pinkeye I’m pretty sure my four-legged friend is fiercer.

So there you have it. Voting is now open. Cast your vote in the poll on the upper left side of the page (for dachshund, of course).

Oh, and we’re offering prizes! Best pro-dachshund and pro-viral vampire comments throughout the round will win stuff. So go comment below or on any of the other upcoming posts in this round.

Aprilynne Pike, author of Wings and Spells, evaluates the pros and cons of dating in the supernatural world.

— Katerina


Back in 2008, someone suggested that the horde of zombie movies was losing ground to a clan of vampire flicks in some kind of sociological class warfare allegory. It was an interesting observation, but we paranormal authors know better than to play Freakonomics with the undead.

Supernatural trends are clearly about the romance!

Take vampires, for example. They say only a vampire can love you forever — excepting angels, demons, and a plethora of other immortals, natch — but the thrill doesn’t stop there! Tall, dark, and handsome? Check. Hungry, passionate longing with a hint of danger? Double-check. Of course, California tans and sunset walks on the beach are right out, but with that list of Class-A features does anyone really think we’re reading about vampires because of subconscious political metaphors?

Of course not! We read about vampires because we want a boyfriend who went to high school with great-grandpa, but still looks like Rob Pattinson.

Same deal with zombies: what girl doesn’t want a man who can appreciate her for her brains? And with the advent of cologne and duct tape, even that pesky decay problem is no obstacle to true love with these monosyllabic shamblers!

In the last two years, even zombies and vampires have given up ground to an advancing army of paranormals. Werewolves, for example, are all the rage! Loyal, rugged men who will definitely keep you warm at night. Let’s face it — everyone is furry for Jacob. Granted, these boys have a time of the month that goes way beyond cranky, and don’t get me started on the state of the soap after they shower . . . but really, who’s perfect?

Why stop there? Sooner or later, someone will realize that vampires, zombies, and werewolves all have one thing in common: ear-nibbling is out, and that just bites. Instead, why not date a faerie? Ethereal beauty, a love of the outdoors, and a wicked sense of humor all come together in this perfect pixie package. They can be a little flighty, it’s true, but once they’re bound to you, they’re bound for life. Make sure you ask what his real name is on your first date. Trust me, that’s information worth worming out of him.

Those paranormals a little too much to handle? Maybe a wizard or warlock is more up your alley. Human enough to fit in as the boy next door, these guys can spoil you better than any millionaire, with a wave of their magic wand — assuming they can see past the end of it. But watch for prejudiced magicians who might turn their back on you if they discover you’re kind of Muggle-y.

Still haven’t found your perfect match? Don’t worry! We’re not done yet! There are demons (the ultimate bad boys), angels (a little pious but oh so sparkly!) necromancers (very helpful should you succumb to the bad guy!) . . . even Cthulu has probably taken out a personal ad from time to time (he’ll eat you up he loves you so).

So you judge. Is our fascination with the supernatural based on obscure and subconscious social leanings? Bah! Clearly, all you need is love.

Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

I will admit that zombies are probably my least favourite of the undead. (Sorry Dan!) I’ve watched a handful of movies that were OK, but I’d take angels, vampires or werewolves over zombies any day. And so, I’ve never read much in the way of zombie lit. But these books caught my eye, and I have to say, I much prefer reading about zombies to watching zombies.

The world as it exists in Carrie Ryan’s novels would be a terrifying place. Civilization has pretty much fallen and in it’s place is an expansive forest with a small villages sprinkled inside. There is a fence to separate the forest from the people because in the forest there are zombies. All day, every day, zombies all around. The author does a good job of reminding you that they are there, relentlessly moaning, grabbing, and biting, trying to infect more people.

Against that backdrop, both The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-tossed Waves are really coming-of-age-and-falling-in-love-stories. These are incredibly brave, yet naive characters whose transition into adulthood is punctuated with death and violence in the form of zombie hordes. And it works very well. All the drama and tension of young love, plus terrifying zombie attacks!

Dead-tossed Waves
The Dead-tossed Waves

What I liked best about these books were the main characters. Mary and Gabry are both intelligent and independent without being pretentious. They make mistakes and they learn from them. They are often terrified, yet they press on and fight when they need to to save the people they love most in the world – sometimes they win, and sometimes, they lose someone to the zombies. They are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff in these books! (Oh man, there is an escape sequence from a tree-house village in the first book that is intense. Ditto for the ending of Dead-tossed Wavesintense!)

I’m really hoping for at least a third book – there is definitely more to this story!

Over a month ago we asked for your pitches for supernatural and undead creatures to join our league.

For the next two weeks, we’re putting out a final call before we go to a vote. And because we like us some contests, we’re giving away an amazing collection of books, the likes of which you will probably only ever see on a site such as this. That is how awesome this prize package is. Three lucky winners will walk away with the following titles:

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
by Lesley Livingston
Fallen by Lauren Kate
The Fallen 1 by Thomas E. Sniegoski
How to Speak Zombie by Steve Mockus
Hush Hush
by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Monstrumologist
by Rick Yancey
by The Harvard Lampoon
Night World No. 1 by L.J. Smith
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Jane Austen and Steve Hockensmith
Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Stephenie Meyer, Young Kim
by Aprilynne Pike
Zombies by Don Roff
The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

What do you need to do to enter? Simply leave a comment here or tweet using the #undeathmatch hashtag and let us know what creature you’d like to see going head-to-head here on the site. If you’ve got a book in mind to go with said creature, all the better.

Remember, you have to login using your e-mail so we can contact you or follow us on Twitter so we can DM you.

Contest closes on Friday April 24 at midnight ET. Winners will be chosen randomly. Then we go to a vote to see who’s up next in our ghoulish throw down.

Zombie Tales: Good Eatin’ A series of vignettes about the world overtaken with zombies. The first story begins on a strong note but the first half was less engaging, it takes the second half for the real ghoulish tales to come out.

Zombies are by far the ultimate supernatural baddie because they have no rhyme or reason. Their only urge is destruction at all costs and because of that there is no way to out-smart a zombie. I think ultimately zombie-stories are about the fear of pack-mentality within society. What can we, as individuals, do when we’re faced with the wall of opposition that is “what the majority thinks”? Fighting zombies is about fighting against the status-quo and daring to blaze a new direction that hasn’t yet been figured out.

While Zombie Tales is an easy enjoyable read, a few of the stories could have been developed into longer versions, while still others were perfect in their brevity. Headshot and Lucky Dog were just long enough for the twist at the end to pay off. The short-story is an important sub-genre of horror because it allows for you to identity with the magnitude of the situation characters face, with none of the attachment. It’s so much easier to delight in the destruction of life in a short-story format because there is no guilt attached: a single slice of horror, half the calories. What both of these managed to capture was the delight in the mayhem zombies can create.

Backbiter, on the other hand was so deliciously evil it needs to be re-imagined as a full-length graphic novel. It was like the horror version of an Archie comic and everything from the design aesthetic to the Tarantino-esque visuals and pacing was too fun to end so soon.

28 Days Later: London Calling is the first in a series of graphic novels attempting to bridge the gap between the first film by the same name and its sequel. The narrative begins with Selena, a survivor from the first film now relocated into a refugee camp for those who managed to make it off the island of the UK after the infection have decimated so many. The plot sees her return to the sight of infection that follows a similar logic as behind Jurassic Park 2. I mean you want her to go back because she’s a kick-ass zombie-killer but there is NEVER any good logical explanation for why anyone would return!

In any event the high-stakes are raised immediately with the infected lurking in every corner. There is one particularly chilling scene that involves something soft to land-on but not without a price.

I would recommend Zombie Tales for those looking for a light bit of quick reading but 28 Days Later more-so for fans of the film looking to find out what happened to Selena post-escape from zombie-island.

[This next pitch comes from a Digital Marketing Associate at Simon & Schuster Canada. Due to her job, she’s been reading a lot of YA paranormal fiction like Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush, Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy, and Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. Her long-standing favourite, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, will always remain close to her heart.]

Wanna go for a ride?

By Beth Martin

Unicorns are goodness and light, rare beasts that prance on rainbows and dance in moonlight. But it’s said that for all light there is dark, all good there is evil, and lurking in the Unicorn’s shadow is the murderous Kelpie.

Sometimes known as “water horses” these malevolent water spirits disguise themselves as ponies or horses – pitch black, white, or glassy green – and wait in the still water of a lake or river, watching for a victim.

If spotted, refrain from approaching this water pony, and don’t dare think of mounting it, for once you do, you will find yourself unable to escape as it gallops under the waves.

Kelpies can also appear as people, women usually, to lure men to their untimely underwater death.

The kelpie is a shapeshifter, and while it may not have the claws and teeth of a werewolf, it has cunning and unmatched beauty. What werewolf, in human form, could resist a ride?

[Alright, alright, while technically not completely within the scope of our guidelines, we had to accept this pitch. Eric lives behind his keyboard in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. He loves most things geek, his favorite fantasy author is Terry Pratchett and his favorite beer is beer. He would be very good at doing things if only he was any good at doing. Check him out on Twitter @webstravaganza.]

“Igor had to admit it. When it came to getting weird things done, sane beat mad hands down.” — Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

By Eric Lortie

Everyone loves an underdog. And why not? It’s nice to see people beat the odds, or at the very least come out swinging when they have no real hope of succeeding. Take mad scientists or vampires, for example. At their height of their power they’re unstoppable. But towards the end of things, when there’s an angry mob with torches and pitchforks headed their way, narrative causality insists that once they reach this point they’re pretty much doomed.

But what about the people who serve these poor, doomed madmen? What about the servant to the underdog? You’d think they’d rank pretty low on the totem pole of survival. What about the Igors? Every megalomaniacal nutjob with a castle and an affinity for lightning must have one. And at the end of the day, when the mad scientist falls out of a window, or when the vampire is a pile of ill-prepared dust, do you ever see any dead Igors laying around? Certainly not. For a race of creatures with limps and lisps, they can also be quite sneaky when needed. How many times has a vampire, exceptionally supernatural creatures of the night that they are, been caught unaware by calling for his or her Igor only to hear “Yeth marthter?” from directly behind them?

Igors are very durable. They know their way around a graveyard and a sewing kit. Many of them go so far as to install backup organs because: “One never knowth what thorths of troubleths one will find themthelves in.”

The Igors, like all good servants, live by a code. An Igor has never been quoted as saying: “Where am I going to find a brain at thith time of night?” But their servitude only goes so far. When the aforementioned mob is coming across the drawbridge and The Master is lamenting his woes at living in a world that wants them dead, this is the moment when an Igor will always be found silently limping away and muttering: “We belong dead? Excuthe me? Where doeth it thay ‘we’?”

Igors have limitless advantages over the remainder of the undead. Not strong enough? That lumberjack just died, he had huge muscles! Problem solved. But it’s their minds, really, that put them ahead of everyone else in the game. In a world of lightning rods and windmills, they’re working on genetic engineering. (It involves really tiny stitches). Their ability to sneak up on vampires when summoned puts them leagues ahead of your garden variety supernatural ninja.

Finally, and most importantly, they are legion. In countries where you can’t spit without hitting a spooky castle, everyone employs an Igor. And with the exception of the scars, they all pretty much look alike. So how many Igors exist? No one knows, except the Igors. And they’re certainly not going to tell you. Every Igor is the son of an Igor, brother to many Igors and cousin to more Igors than they can remember without checking their diary.

Why change a winning formula?

Teen fiction and science fiction/fantasy/horror have a lot more in common than initially meets the eye: and I’m not talking about reading-level. Both are about larger-than-life events that parable the everyday struggles of everyday people. But more than that both are about monsters within each of us.

Think about it:

Half the fun of books like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars is the bad-girl protagonist. What would drive the plot if there wasn’t an element of delight in reveling in the bad behavior of characters you might want to emulate at times, but wouldn’t because of social decorum?

The bad girl is very much a monster and not unlike a vampire:

–         Pretty, but hiding a secret sinister plot (check)
–         Out for blood (check)
–         Recoils at the sight of crosses (check)

Following that trajectory we have Fat Vampire, a coming-of-age story about becoming a man, but also a monster. The story is about a schlubby teen who is accidentally turned into a vampire which ultimately changes him for the worse. The parable is blatant: that period where teens are on the road to self-discovery usually makes them jerks in their own selfish wants and needs.

Doug begins to see that as a vampire he has power and as a result he begins to treat the people in his life like pawns. I think Adam Rex is trying to get his presumed-male readers to step back from themselves and consider if what they want is always worth what it takes to get it. A moral that requires a monster to tell it!

This is exactly what Hanna does in her genre, this time for girl-readers in Pretty Little Liars. The joy of reading both is living vicariously through them while hopefully checking our own impulses!

The message in teen books and in fantasy/sci-fi/horror often overlaps: Check the monster within or deal with the consequences!

Who do you think is deadlier?:

–         Doug from Fat Vampire
–         Hanna from Pretty Little Liars

Help us settle an ancient dispute (and some old scores) with your pitch

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