There’s definitely something of the tongue-in-cheek to Chuck Wendig’s sublime horror writing. At times Double Dead veers to the comedic, but the element of genre fiction, the scares, terror and downright dread, are still quite apparent and well implemented. It’s a fine balancing act, and one which Wendig pulls-off distinctly and without need for any inappropriately over-kill horror writing apparatus.
When we meet our anti-hero, the leather-jacket clad Coburn, he’s just awoken from a slumber during what has clearly been several highly eventful and doom-laden years for the human race. Emerging from his torpor, having been awoken by some ‘stray’ blood, he is confused by what he finds. New York has definitely changed – but not for the better by any means. The streets are packed full of the walking dead – and unfortunately for him that’s a major issue as it means his food source has pretty much just dried up.
As if the lack of sustenance wasn’t enough, he soon comes to the realisation via several extremely close-encounters (even for a vampire) that despite their shambling and meandering ways, the packs of brain-dead shuffling corpse pose a real and terminal threat to his existence. So it is, after a particularly dangerous fight he’s thrown into the Hudson river, and dragged away from the city to pastures new.
It’s an interesting conundrum certainly for the vampire – and us, the reader. Such ‘What If?’ scenarios of similar possibilities might play out in the minds of various vampire, and or zombie-fiction aficionados at times. Yet Wendig does a great job of blending the quirky existential plausibility faced by Coburn with creating an action-packed, shocking yet also amusing novel derivative of various genre fictions.
As Coburn travels onward he unwittingly collects a number of associates, including a delightfully cute canine companion ‘Creampuff’ – initially destined for consumption, the dog is soon a party piece. Then there’s a rag-tag collective of survivors in whom he takes an interest. The realisation that his main food supply is bordering on the extinct gives him something of a new found concern for the welfare of the human race.
Setting off for across the U.S. and heading for supposed safety, Coburn soon runs up against a number of varied, and as would be expected in a post-apocalyptic book involving more than one type of undead, quite dangerous enemies. And that’s including his companions of choice. With a haus-frau super zombie, various collectives and bands of desperadoes, and even nemeses he had figured long gone, you can be assured there’s a character portfolio here as interesting as they’re deadly.
Double Dead is some great fun horror reading that surely packs a punch. Never boring, this book picks you up by the ears and gives you a good shake in a highly entertaining way. You’ll find Coburn’s adventures as curious, shocking and amusing as his outlook on undeath. With a sequel recently released, Chuck Wendig’s set up an awesome-sauce foundation for some continued high-calibre stakes vampire/zombie apocalyptic rumblings.