Ever since poor Duane Jones accidentally caught a bullet at the end of Night Of The Living Dead , the zombie story has felt like the natural home for mixing up social commentary with action. So it goes with David Towsey’s debut novel (the first in a trilogy), an undead western about fear and religious persecution.
Towsey’s future looks a lot like the past. It’s 2917, and Earth has retreated into a pre-industrial way of life. Technology and culture is treated with suspicion and the Bible with unthinking reverence. There’s one big difference though – the existence of the zombies.
Thomas is one of these “Walkin’”. They don’t want to eat your flesh, but exist as a despised underclass. Burnt and horribly disfigured, Thomas is afraid of seeing his family again, but naturally, circumstances reunite him with his daughter…
Despite sitting in two genres, Your Brother’s Blood manages to largely avoid relying on recycled tropes. There’s little in the way of gun-totting, zombie-blasting carnage here. Instead, this is a sparse, elegantly written novel about family ties. The influence of Cormac McCarthy and especially The Road is keenly felt, and Thomas and Mary’s relationship is moving without being overly sentimental.
Some may find it a little on the slow side, but the deft world-building and focus on small-scale human tragedy make for an absorbing alternative to World War Z -style epics.
Will Salmon twitter.com/evilrobotbill
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