Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean that the scary stories have been put away for the year. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite authors  – Jonathan Maberry – has a new book out, Dead of Night. It is creepy in its atmospheric writing, scary in its premise, and frightening in its outcome.  What more could a horror geek ask for – ZOMBIES!

Here is the description provided by St. Martin’s Press:

A  prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave.  But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects.  Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up.  Hungry.  Infected.  Contagious.  This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang…but a bite.

And end with a bite it does. What happens before that is just as scary. Maberry is a horror aficionado, with a speciality in zombies. His works include Zombie CSU, Patient Zero (Joe Ledger series book 1), Marvel Zombies Return, and the YA series Rot & Ruin, and Dust & Decay. In his latest fiction it is not only the horror of the unknown in regards to zombies, but the science behind it as well, that makes it a great read.

Maberry’s meticulous research, and interviews with leading experts in various scientific fields, are a large part of what makes his writing great. In Dead of Night, he puts forth the possibility of people becoming zombies not through a man-made virus, but through a genetically altered parasite. Plausible? Heck yes. Scientists have been altering bugs for years for various purposes, remember sterilized fruit flies? That’s not the really frightening part though. Ponder this:

What if you were killed and came back to life, to kill over and over again, but while your body is committing these horrible actions, your mind is screaming for you to stop? You don’t want to do those horrific things, but you can’t stop. You have no control over your hands, legs, and ever-searching mouth; a mouth that wants to spread the infection of the parasite; a mouth that wants to feed; a mouth that will not scream out the horror you now feel. You are no longer in control of any of your actions, but are fully aware of what you are doing.

That would totally suck.

This is one of the many points of view (POV) that Maberry uses to intensify the horror of the situation. There are many POV and sometimes it covers the details of just one scene. This does not stop the story in its tracks though, but adds to the moment he is trying to create. The various POV also add powerful significance to the timeline, which is a little over 24 hours. While one character is fighting the walking dead, another is providing us with a back story through an interview, and yet another character is totally oblivious to the entire situation at the moment.

When it comes to the key characters they are strong and powerfully written. Dez, a police officer who while deeply deeply flawed is a powerful woman. Billy Trout, a local reporter, is the epitome of an anti-hero. Homer Gibbons is pure evil. And Dr. Volker – those who read this with a scientific eye will understand his tenacity and possibly appreciate what he was trying to achieve. Those who are more humanely sensitized will see him as an even bigger monster.

Maberry has given zombie lovers another great read. The novel starts off as more of a mystery, but the horror that soon turns Stebbins, PA into a nightmare is devastating. Dead of Night is a zombie novel and sci-fi thriller that packs devastating punch and leaves mankind with little hope. Right now this book is intended as a stand alone novel, and that is it’s only downfall at the moment.

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY, THAT IS THE QUESTION. This is a must have for any zombiphile, so it is a definite BUY BUY BUY.

For more with Jonathan check out his homepage, and my uploads on youtube of him from Dragon*Con 2011.