Title: Zombie Boyz
Author: Ethan Day, Geoffrey Knight, Ethan Stone, Daniel Kane, Tj Klune, Eric Arvin
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Zombie Boyz
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: Novel (Anthology-3 novellas)
Rating: 5+ stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: An incredible collection of brilliant stories by some of the finest authors today.
Blurb: Board up the windows, push an old dresser against the door and load your shotgun. A zombie apocalypse is about to hit Wilde City, and if you want the best survival tips, six of Wilde City’s boys are here to help.
You’ll never want to exercise again as Eric Arvin and TJ Klune turn a gym full of hunks into a smorgasbord of terror in GHOUL’S GYM.
Gather your friends and fight for the man you love, as Ethan Stone and Daniel A Kaine turn Vegas into a zombie nightmare in SURVIVING SIN CITY.
And bring a date to dinner to celebrate Grumpy Grampy’s 90th birthday and introduce your family to your new zombie boyfriend in Geoffrey Knight and Ethan Day’s GUESS WHO’S COMING AT DINNER.
You’ll scream with terror and howl with laughter as Wilde City’s boys bring you our first undead anthology ZOMBIE BOYZ
Review: Zombies. They are the stuff of nightmares, several nail-biting and terrifying movies, a few campy ones and nearly always gory with ample amounts of body parts and…well, more gore. According to some conspiracy theorists, this is the way that science will eventually go mad and eradicate most, if not nearly all, of the population of the earth as we know it. The “zombie apocalypse” will certainly mean survival of the fittest or at least those who can run like hell and avoid being eaten.
The anthology Zombie Boyz does little to dispel these ideas, it just does so with incredible imagination, wit, a bit of sadness, and, yes, mad writing skills! This is the dream team by any standard. Six incredible authors cut loose and give us three stunningly well written stories that are as different as night from day…(pun intended). Did I have a favorite? No, because each was so uniquely different from the other that every one of these gems was more than worth the accolades I am about to give them. So, for those who like to keep track of rating scores, each of these novellas is rated a 5–but for very different reasons. Let’s begin with:
Guess Who’s Coming At Dinner by Ethan Day & Geoffrey Knight
Oh. I need to catch my breath. You see I am not sure if I ever stopped laughing from word one of this story. When the Pandemic Transviral Apocalypse of 2013 breaks out, Chandler is a freshman in college, still living at home, and working at Beefcake Bob’s the local burger joint and apparent ground zero for the spread of the zombie virus in the United States. This brilliantly hilarious young man and his zany extended family have no idea what is about to hit them. Chandler has maintained a crush on Zane Addison, the football star of their high school and essentially hands-off demigod. On the night Chandler serves up the sack of death burgers that will unleash the inner zombie in many, Zane comes to his defense when a few other football jerks taunt poor Chandler at the drive in window. The story that then springs from the collective team of Knight and Day is a roller coaster of fun that carries you breathlessly along as Chandler determinedly saves the now zombified Tyler and the two fall hopelessly in love.
These two authors are, admittedly, known for their humor and over the top characters. But this little story surpassed my wildest expectations. It was hysterical. This was a tender first love that morphed into comedy genius. There was not one wasted moment in this novella. Each character, wonderfully fresh and well drawn, was not only like-able but endearing. Our hero, Chandler, was a classic snarky teen with the mind of a forty year old. Tyler was the quintessential sweet, mildly confused jock who would eventually stand up for his man and save the day. Chandler’s family…well..words fail me. They were the most absurdly sweet and yet oddly crass group of adults I have ever encountered and each one of these characters were larger than life and oh so very funny. This was comedy writing at its finest. And with it, this anthology was off with a bang and led nicely to the second novella:
Surviving Sin City by Ethan Stone & Daniel Kane
From the sublime to the serious, we arrive in Las Vegas where two closeted men from different continents collide in the very epicenter of the zombie explosion. Kaleb Pierce, a young twenty something pizza delivery boy is not unfamiliar with the seedier parts of Vegas. He carries a Glock in his glove compartment and definitely seems to know some fairly shady characters whom he loosely calls, “friends”. He lives with his mother and brother, Pat, and his family is blissfully unaware that he is gay and that is the way Kaleb prefers it, for now. Across town, the carefully prepared survivalist, Cooper Lockwood is trying to enjoy his holiday despite the fact that he left his lover back in England after finding out the man was cheating on him.
However, in Cooper’s twisted perspective, it was all his fault that Ewan had cheated on him and then left him because you see Cooper refused to come out of the closet and live openly with his boyfriend. When all hell breaks loose and these men are thrust into the madness that becomes a violent and scary nightmare whose main casts consists of a type of thinking, planning “super zombie. This encounter leaves both finding that others discovering they are gay is the least of their worries. In order to survive, they are going to have to throw their lot in together and hope that they can “get out of Dodge” before they become someone’s next meal.
Surviving Sin City evoked memories of film noir and those deliciously wonderful detective movies where the scruffy, hard bitten detective is a genuine good guy who meets and falls for the very person he sets out to help. Kaleb was written in a way that he is wise beyond his years yet with a sweet vulnerability that flashes onto the page occasionally like when he finally comes to terms with the fact that his own mother became a zombie and was killed. Coop, on the other hand, is a misguided stoic who struggles with just a bit of self-loathing and tons of guilt. In his mind, his breakup was all his fault, his desire to remain hidden the factor that “made” his boyfriend cheat. Both these men are wounded warriors, who rise above their own petty differences to not only help each other but save the few loved ones they can. Along the way, walls come down, and just a hint of a possible lasting love comes in as the story closes out.
I really enjoyed these characters–this story. They were complex and the plot never pandered to the idea that all would be insta-love for these guys, instead, the mere idea that love could possibly blossom was introduced and then respectfully mixed in with a very realistic fight against death. The super zombies were just plain creepy and the headlong flight that carried Kaleb and Coop to find Kaleb’s brother Pat and rescue him left me breathless. This was a taut, well written horror story that wasted not one word in the telling. And that leads us to the last offering in this anthology:
Ghoul’s Gym by Tj Klune & Eric Arvin
I am at a loss as to where to begin. First, this was the bloodiest of the three novellas and definitely not for the faint of heart. This was the saddest of the three books as well, heart wrenching in many ways and most assuredly not a happy ever after kind of story. However, this was the most beautiful love story ever, that was wonderfully disguised inside a horror novel that was so realistically gory and violent that I almost had to hide my eyes as I read with growing fear that all was not going to be well by novella’s end. Ghoul’s Gym was a stunning story that made me cry and stayed with me long after the last word on the page was read.
Ulysses Florence Hoak (Uly) is a buff, muscle bound giant who works at an exclusively gay gym with a pervy, disgusting boss who goes by the name of Stephen Dorian. The love of Uly’s life, Jake Howell, is the polar opposite of Uly physically and keenly aware that many, including Dorian, feel that Uly is wasting his time with the decidedly unbuff, slightly neurotic Jake In a wonderful twist, Jake is the dominant sexual partner in their relationship and Uly just worships the ground that his boyfriend walks on.
Unfortunately, this also makes Uly somewhat oblivious to Jake’s near paranoid worry that Uly will one day wise up, see him for the loser he is, and leave him, especially if the hound dog Stephen Dorian has his way. So, it is this unrealistic fear that prompts Jake to seek out one of the shadier patrons of the gym and purchase the steroid cocktail that will set him on the path to blissful buffness and allay his worries that Uly will leave him for someone bigger and better. Unfortunately, the juice that Jake is accidentally injected with is a “new and improved” version stolen from the military that turns the recipient into a violent, sex crazed killer. All hell breaks lose inside the gym that same day as others who are using the drug begin to change and that leaves Uly and a few friends running for their lives and Jake struggling to hold onto his own identity rather than succumb to the mindless, blood seeking mind of a killer.
I must tell you that this would be by any standard a gore-fest of a story. This writing team does not spare any space on the page when describing the bloody havoc that is wreaked by these jacked up zombies. But, the incredible twist, the element that transformed this from a simple horror story into a heart-wrenching tale of love and tenderness was the written moments of Uly and Jake’s meeting and their shared hopes and dreams for the future. Arvin and Klune interweave this sweet love story into the fabric of a horrifying and violent apocalypse and, by doing so, they pull you back from the edge again and again into this tender relationship. So when the outcome of this story hangs the life of these two men in the balance, you experience that “heart in your throat” moment and the person you hear saying, “no, no, please, let him live” is you, silently begging these two brilliant authors for a happy ever after. This was not just a “zombie story”. Ghoul’s Gym was a glimpse at how love can be selfless and courageous and lasting, despite fate’s intervention. Just beautiful.
Zombie Boyz has a little something for any type of reader. From the silly to the sublime, the action adventure to the horror, this anthology offers up three deliciously different tales that will have you howling with laughter and wiping away tears of sadness. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection!