Pale Preachers: A Zombie Novella by Tom Piccirilli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mal had done whatever it took to escape the swamp. He wasn't even supposed to grow up there. When his parents were killed in a car wreck in the deep bayou, they died, but he was rescued by a "witchy woman" who taught him the spells, lore and magic of the swamp. But now he is being called back by family that is not blood, but kin just the same. The dead have begun to rise in the swamp, and the witchy woman who raised Mal and his "sister" Bel is of no use - her grave is empty too. So Mal reruns to a land of meth labs and moonshine, of alarming genetic mutations like his adoring half-fish half-man cousin. As the dead shamble and stalk, tittering and giggling at some unknown joke, Mal must solve the mystery: could this be the work of nature or science? An "autogenesis" that uses the corpses as a shell or is it just pure evil. Mal and his clan have to make a stand when the zombies attack their shack. Will they stay and fight or go out and face the unknown? Tom Piccirilli is a master at stories like these building wonderfully emotive characters, and developing a claustrophobic setting that ratchets the tension to the limit.View all my book reviews.