Reviewed by Lillian Csernica
“10/31: Bloody Mary” by Norman Partridge
A teenage boy is the only member of his family to survive in a dystopian world terrorized by all the classic monsters. He encounters a strange woman not much older than himself, Bloody Mary. She has a wheelbarrow full of weapons and no hesitation about using them. They develop an uneasy partnership where she trains him and he watches her back. In this world it’s Halloween 24/7. Mr. Patridge does some wonderful things with the Jack-o’-Lantern and the way Bloody Mary is a poster girl for PTSD. The story’s pace is very good, with plenty of action and just enough of a lull before the big finale.
“The Crowgirl” by Meg Arkenberg
A station wagon full of survivors travels cross country, avoiding the Dead thanks to the crowgirl who has power over crows and ravens, carrion birds feared by the Dead. The story is told from the point of view of the crowgirl’s sister. One of the Dead approaches the sister, asking for a truce. While this story has many of the familiar background elements of the zombie apocalyse, there are fresh details and delicate moments and raw humanity. Ms. Arkenberg’s writing style is strong and polished. This fresh take on the zombie dystopia brings needed creativity to the bleak landscape.