Disclaimer: If you have not read the first book in The Strandville Zombie Series, which you can read my review of right here, you may want to skip this post. If you HAVE read the first Strandville novel, Cure, you might want to read that view anyway, and then come back here.
Okay, you with me? Great! Afterbirth is the most recent book I finished. I was sent a proof copy by the author for reviewing and unlike some books I have been given for review, this one was a total pleasure. As usual, here is the blurb from Goodreads:
The survivors of the Nixon Center escape struggle in a post-apocalyptic world where the walking dead aren’t the biggest threats.
Working from a remote, mountain cabin, Dr. Howard Nixon is determined to salvage what is left of his experiment.
Allison escapes him, clinging to life and with no idea what’s happened in the world.
Zach is looking for her, but time is running out.
Reid lives holed up in the Nixon Center and waits for his revenge.
Tension is high as both Miranda and Carlene’s pregnancies come to term. Miranda, faced with the possibility that her delivery might cause her to become infected, is forced to seek help from the only other person who knows what has happened: Dr. Michael Waters, the physician who sent her to Dr. Nixon in the first place.
All roads lead back to Strandville where grudges resurface and old decisions must be answered for. Scott, Miranda, and Michael return to the center to face-off against their pasts and each other as Michael’s secret agenda comes to light.
Afterbirth picks up seven months after the events in Cure, and from the beginning in the Frisch fashion I’ve come to appreciate, it starts with a bang and takes off at a gallop which turns into a sprint, and so on, and so forth. The point being: Belinda Frisch knows how to write some great zombie action.
One interesting thing to note about Afterbirth right away is that Frisch has provided us with a short recap about what happened in the first book of the series, sort of like a “Previously On..” recap that they do before television shows. This is genius!! Like I said, Afterbirth springs into action, so if it weren’t for that short but effective recap, I may not have slipped back into the story so easily. With the little recap, which I really wish more authors would do, I could get down to enjoying all of the bloody zombie mayhem!
Now, Afterbirth wasn’t a COMPLETE all out gore fest. Through Afterbirth’s beginnings we reconnect with the characters we got to know in such depth in Cure. We remember their plights and sympathize with them, because unfortunately, in seven months things have only gotten much worse for the people of Strandville. Though it was hard to watch characters I have come to care about face such awful, unspeakable things, the tension build-up in the beginning of the book where we saw bad people become completely evil was fascinating. Afterbirth is full of intrigue, double-crossing and two-faced characters that will keep you on your toes and surprise you as the action propels you forward.
Also, as in Cure, Belinda Frisch’s medical background shines through her writing in detailed, intelligent descriptions that add to the story, not slow it down as technical things sometimes can. I remember classifying Cure as a medical zombie thriller, because the emphasis on the medicine and the work that was being done at the Nixon center was a large focus in Cure.
However, I am thrilled to say that it was the outright horror and gore of Afterbirth that made me love the sequel. There is no doubt that Afterbirth is the goriest thing I have read in the last year. It’s the goriest thing since I’ve read since Trapped by Jack Kilborn, AKA Joe Konrath of A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. I was grossed out, really grossed out by some of the descriptions in Afterbirth and it gave me the same feeling I got when reading Trapped – almost like it was so gory, so raw, so BRAVE, I was doing something wrong. If a writer has enough talent to make me scared and make me cringe and make my stomach turn? (SLOW CLAP)
Afterbirth was scary. Afterbirth was a book that I stayed up late reading and then had nightmares about afterward, and trust me, I don’t joke about nightmares. And I NEVER joke about zombies.I am one of those people who always put myself into character’s shoes, imagining how I would feel and what I would do in their situations, and sometimes I get really freaked out. Afterbirth made me question the horror of all horrors in my opinion – what if I were pregnant during the zombie apocalypse? Really, what could be worse than that, right? Well, being pregnant with a zombie baby could be worse. In Strandville, everything is as bad as it can possibly be, and then it just keeps on getting worse.
I can’t imagine what Belinda has in store for the residents of Strandville now, but that woman has a fierce, brave, and most of all SCARY imagination. I will be sticking around to hear from Strandville again…
You can buy Cure and Afterbirth, as well as Belinda’s first novel Dead Spell on Amazon and other online retailers. She is active on Twitter and on her blog, which is a great resource for horror book and movie fans, as well as indie publishers.