King of all the Dead

Authors: Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis
Telos Publishing
RRP 8.00,
US $17.95, Cdn $21.95
ISBN 1 903889 61 8
Available now

Lisa Morgan prevents a stranger, Ben, from committing suicide. But, in the process of saving Ben, Lisa's sister is suddenly and violently killed by an unseen and malevolent force. Lisa and Ben are soon being attacked by the reanimated dead and as if this wasn't bad enough, Lisa's life is about to take a turn for the worse as the king of all the dead attempts to claim what is rightfully his...

If zombie movies still excite you after all these years - with hardly an original twist in sight - then you will be itching to get your hands on a copy of King of the Dead. If, on the other hand you like you horror with a dose of intelligence, you'll be hard pressed to find what you are looking for here.

King of all the Dead could have been a very good novel. Instead, due more to sloppy writing than a poor plot, the result is a half-baked mismatch of ideas. The trouble seems to be that the authors were internally struggling with the final direction of their creation.

In places the writing style is a little patronising - do we really need: "she said, she asked, Lisa said" or "she started" after every quotation? And in places (in a lot of places actually) the characters respond unbelievably to normal circumstances (OK, you can explain this one away once you've read the entire book, but I still believe this is the result of careless writing.)

But, when the cards are down Steve Lockley and Paul Lewis pull out all the stops. Their writing style works well when there is action to describe, but they haven't quite mastered the art of relaying banal events believably. The horror elements are well told though, and this is what really matters.

Almost filmic in places, this rather short (120 pages) novel is extremely promising, but hardly original and its conclusion will probably leave you feeling cheated.

There was obviously something bizarre going on at the typesetters too. For some reason most of the pages have missing hyphens - with an extra space having been dropped in instead - very shoddy.

While King of all the Dead offers little in the way of originality, it is still an interesting read and fans of the horror genre will no doubt find it entertaining enough.

Nick Smithson

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