Those familiar with my reviews will know that I love postapocalyptica and all that is the world going to hell in a handbasket. Inevitably, probably in no small part to the current surge in popularity due to shows like AMC's The Walking Dead, many of these tales focus on zombies; and I have always enjoyed this horror sub-genre, albeit that there are varying levels of quality in the stories produced in print and on screen.
Books of the Dead Press, helmed by respected author James Roy Daley, have produced Best New Zombie Tales: Vol 2, in an effort to bring you, the reader, the crème de la crème of stories of the undead.
Having read and been thoroughly impressed with the first entry in this series, I had no hesitation in picking up the second instalment; especially when factoring in the talent heavy roster of contributing authors, such as: Bram Stoker Award winners John Everson and David Niall Wilson; and Pulitzer prize nominee Mort Castle.
Proceedings kick off with an introduction from James Roy Daley who picks up where he left off last time, being bullied by H.P.Lovecraft... Thereafter, the reader is treated to 19 short stories, some of the highlights for me being as follows:
Rio Youers tale of the undead Bury Me Not, is the first short story in the collection and although a tale of the undead, might not be quite what you expect. This entry is a tale of dark magic and would be worthy of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
In Gravedigger, Nate Kenyon sets his story in its entirety in a morgue and had my stomach churning with the first few paragraphs... and he hadn't even started on the dead walking at this point! Gravedigger is a punchy, smart little tale and could easily be expanded into a full length novel.
Derek Gunn takes the reader on a genre mash-up journey to the Wild Weird West in The Third Option, a tale of walking dead gunslingers and Native American curses.
Cody Goodfellow's We Will Rebuild is set in a postapocalyptic town and focuses on the town's sheriff, trying to maintain law & order while dealing with "competing interests".
The final entry in this title is The Finger by Matt Hults. Having experienced the work of this author before, I was not disappointed by this story. Hults brings his own particular warped mind to bear on a tale of the undead that's unique and memorable.
Critically, I'd have to say that Vol 2 isn't as strong as its predecessor. There are stories contained within this second entry to the series that paled in comparison to more novel yarns in the same book and in fact, I found myself skipping over one of the stories for being entirely too whimsical for my own taste.
That is not to say that Best New Zombie Tales: Vol 2 is not worthy of your attention; simply that Books of the Dead Press has consistently presented strong work with all titles I have had the pleasure of reading and when compared with them, this title comes up slightly short.
Overall, Best New Zombie Tales: Vol 2 offers a collection of tales of the undead with varying takes on the sub-genre. The stories on the whole are novel, intelligent and compelling but in my opinion, the title as a whole is not as robust as its predecessor. All the same, I will definitely be picking up Best New Zombie Tales: Vol 3!