So, it’s the holidays, and you’ve had your fill of relatives, leftovers, Christmas music, crowds, and Really Bad TV. Suddenly, getting away from everything--just you, a mug of something (hot cocoa, some Earl Grey, the last of the eggnog, a couple fingers of whiskey, whatever), and a good book to curl up with--sounds like the best idea you’ve had all season.
But what to read? Maybe something vaguely... festive. (‘Tis the season, fa-la-la, and all that.) The problem--for me, at least--is that most seasonally-appropriate books run toward the treacly, sugar-coated side... and I, most definitely, do not.
If that scenario sounds familiar, then no worries; I’ve already done the searching for you, and have a positively-delectable morsel to offer up for your reading pleasure--one which is decidedly more, erm, meaty, rather than sweet (but more about that, later)--the irreverently-titled I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, courtesy of S. G. Browne.
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The holidays are tough for a lot of people, but I’ll hazard a guess that no one else in the history of ever has had the misfortune to wake up a couple days before Christmas, dressed in a Santa suit, in the middle of a body farm (you know, those places where cadavers are left outside, to see what effects exposure and all sorts of freaky conditions have on bodies doing their decomposition thing? yeah, there...) in Portland, Oregon. This isn’t just any old body farm, either; the one Andy Warner wakes up in is populated entirely by the undead. (No, not the deceased... the previously-dead-but-now-reanimated undead. In other words, zombies.)
It isn’t quite the big freak-out you’re probably envisioning, though... since Andy, himself, has been a member of the walking undead for the past eighteen months. Still, for a not-even-close-to-dead-(again) zombie--and not just one who’s sentient, but who can also talk, walk around (rather than shamble), and, with an adequate diet of... (well, you already know what they eat), even pass for a normal breather--this is not an ideal situation. Not even close. Clearly, Andy needs a plan... but first, he needs to remember how and why he got there.
Gone are the days when there was substantial support for zombie rights, when a lot of people still thought we could all just “get along”. After a few memorable bloodbaths, your average zombie went from being warily-tolerated to “monster non grata”. As such, the fate of a new zombie these days is pretty much holing up somewhere and trying to survive, winding up in a body farm to die (another) horrible death, or getting sent to a research facility. That last is where Andy has been for the past year, being subjected to a lot of ghastly tests, all (purportedly) in the name of science. (Andy’s pretty sure some of the researchers derived a bit too much sadistic pleasure out of torturing him, though, for it to have been as pure as all that.)
So, when he sees his chance, he quite understandably makes a break for it, along with a couple dozen other test subjects. The good news? He makes it out. The bad news? Most of the others are caught and returned to the facility... leaving Andy on his own, on the lam.
When he stumbles (literally) onto an outdoor Christmas tableau, complete with a stuffed Santa in full holiday regalia, he realizes he may have just figured out a way to escape for good. And, when he chances on a small group of zombies-in-hiding--newbies, whom he spends a little quality time with, discussing the ins and outs of zombiedom (and going all Julia Child on them, rhapsodizing eloquently about... erm, cuts of human and how best to prepare and cook it [shudder]) plus a couple of old friends, he thinks he may even have the makings for a crazy plan to bust his recaptured comrades out of the research center, as well.
But, it’s only after encountering a lonely little girl who believe he’s the real Santa Claus--and reconnecting with memories of his former life and the family he used to have--that he starts to ponder Christmas miracles (on whatever street)... and discovers that the magic of Christmas doesn’t only apply to breathers, but that it works for zombies, too.
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Reading (and chuckling my way through) I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus is some of the most sheer fun I’ve had all year. Seriously, this one has it all: a witty protagonist (granted, he’s decaying from the inside-out and salivates at the thought of fresh breather, but you can’t not like the guy for that); hilarious sidekicks (oh my stars, the elves? the drunken horde of Santas? had me in stitches!); well-done lore, with just-enough backstory to get me up to speed [I discovered only after reading that this is the second story to feature Andy Warner], without going into a lot of medical jargon or scientific hoo-ha (sometimes, you don’t want or need to know that much); and a poignant (but definitely not treacly) side story, with a sweet little girl who has so little in life, and wants nothing but a very small (yet seemingly-unattainable) miracle for Christmas. Pure gold, that is.
Like waking up to fresh snow on Christmas morning, I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus is the perfect holiday treat (and if you’re just a little warped, like me, then all the better...).
GlamKitty Catnip Mousie Rating: 5 out of 5 fresh-from-the-Xmas-stocking new mousies!