We’ve noticed that the zombie fiction genre is largely populated by authors who are men, so for this month’s Freaky Friday, we wanted to recommend some lady authored books for lovers of the undead. From post-apocalyptic zombie fare to steampunk+zombies to vampires vs. zombies, we think this selection is a fresh take on what the zombie genre can look like. So if you’re looking for a little zombie action this weekend, this list is for you!
Susan Dennard’s Something Strange and Deadly trilogy is set in an alternate version of the 1870s where zombies are common enough that the Philadelphia train station has a Dead alarm. Usually it’s only the odd corpse going walkabout, but occasionally, as is the case now, they will be raised and controlled by a necromancer. And they have Eleanor Fitt’s brother. With nowhere else to turn, she goes to the enigmatic Spirit-Hunters for assistance. Eleanor spends much of the first book caught between mundane Philadelphia life and her search for her brother. Although the city knows the Dead are rising and the Spirit-Hunters have been called in for aid, it is otherwise much like 1876 Philadelphia in the real world, and young ladies do not go off cavorting with strangers and chasing after necromancers. Over the course of the trilogy, Eleanor becomes less concerned with such appearances and more concerned with the Spirit-Hunters and the Dead. It is, in this way, a quintessentially YA novel; the core of Eleanor’s character development is in learning whom she is and refusing to submit to pointless, harmful expectations. It may be within the context of developing the skills to fight the undead in 19th-century society, but it is nevertheless an experience many of us recognise and are familiar with. With action, romance, supernatural armies and steampunk technology, there’s something for everyone in this series.
– Recommended by Nicola (this post originally appeared on our sister site, Spellbinding Books)
Blood of Eden, Julie Kagawa. The premise of Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series is so outlandish, I wondered if it could work, but it’s truly so much fun. When a viral infection creates ravaging hordes of zombies, vampires take over the world, locking humans in walled cities to feed on. Crazy, right? Somehow it works, largely because Kagawa’s protagonist Allison Sekemoto is so stubborn and emotionally complex. Her terrible choice between life as a vampire or succumbing to the infection that will turn her into a “rabid” takes her on a rollicking emotional journey, as well as a kickass adventure. Kagawa’s worldbuilding is strangely believable for a novel that throws two traditionally distinct genres together, resulting in a scary-fun mashup that fans of vampires and zombies alike will enjoy.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan. Some have compared The Forest of Hands and Teeth to the film The Village, and I see the root of that comparison — it’s got a similar aesthetic, I suppose. Given the zombies in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the similarities end pretty quickly. The protagonist, Mary, lives in a fenced village surrounded by “The Unconsecrated” (zombies). The village is ruled by The Sisterhood, a group of nuns committed to protecting the villagers from the zombie invasion. The Sisterhood has its secrets though, and as Mary uncovers them, her personal safety is at risk. When the fence is breached all bets are off and the adventure begins. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a fast-paced read and is a standalone novel, but there are also a set of short stories that flesh out the world both before and after the timeline in the novel takes place. Ryan’s book plays with typical zombie-narrative tropes, but the end result is something a bit different in its eeriness. The quiet moments are somehow as frightening as the terrifying escape from the breached village. Though the book is technically dystopian (set in landscapes spanning the US and Canada), this is a fresh take on what a zombie-ridden dystopia might look like.
– Recommended by Allison
Feed by Mira Grant. Set after the zombie apocalypse when humans have figured out how to live with the undead, brother-sister blog writers are picked to follow the campaign of a presidential candidate. This book is full of politics, gore, betrayal and fast-paced action scenes. My library coworkers and I went crazy over this series a few years ago and it was difficult not to tell spoilers as we moved through the books. We highly recommend them to our students as well for their poli sci reading assignment. You’ll quickly become attached to the blog team and this book will leave you dying for more.
– Recommended by Abby
Thanks so much for following along! Next month’s Freaky Friday will cover non-fiction genres sure to scare, from cults to natural disasters, we’re gonna get real with you about the scary stuff. Have a fantastic weekend!
– Coven Book Club