Customer Reviews: Best New Zombie Tales (Vol. 1)
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on May 3, 2010
This anthology was a great way to spend my spare moments for the last few days. The stories were well written and engaging, and there were only one or two that I read and was like, "meh", after finishing (considering the size of this book I'd say that's pretty good). With almost 20 stories, and only ONE that I had read in a previous anthology, this truly is the Best New Zombie Tales. The first story really set the standard for what was to follow, a real page turner and very original. This collection had a large variation of our undead friends, from the old shamblers to thinking zombies to zombie animals. Zombie squirrel? yep, it made an appearance. There's humor--Pegleg and Paddy Save the World; there was one that I almost couldn't finish it was so gross--SKN-3; there was even a love story!--Zombie Love. Feeding Frenzy was an absolute treat! Simply put, this is a must have for any fan of zombie lit, it won't disappoint. I have to say that if this is the sort of talent Mr Daley can procure for his anthologies, count me in for the next installment(s)!
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on May 20, 2011
Have you ever been so engrossed with a book that you miss your subway stop and realize it 6 stops later? That was me with Best New Zombie Tales Vol. 1. This is by far the best Zombie anthology I've read in a very long time. I would even go as far as saying one of the best horror anthologies.

A few of my fav's are stories written by Matt Hults, Jonathan Mayberry and Harry Shannon. I've downloaded Vol. 2 and 3 and am looking forward to reading them. This is a series that all Zombie lovers need to have in their collection.
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Best New Zombie Tales Vol 1, edited by James Roy Daley

Best New Zombie Tales Vol 1, edited by James Roy Daley is a very solid offering from front to back. There are a few familiar names here, but the thrill comes from names I was not up to speed on. The introduction makes it seem as if there will be problems for "traditionalists" of the zombie genre. As I consider myself to fall in that category, I braced myself. There was no need. These were an eclectic and well-selected group of stories. The editing could have been more thorough, but all-in-all this is worth owning.

Zombie Love - Ray Garton
Very tense and enjoyable. The idea of a zombie that has not so much the base instincts to re-enact old rituals from their life, but also a limited vocabulary to speak to loved ones plays well. And a zombie that says "Ow!" is actually quite humorous in a dark way. The whole bit about going to the mall and subsequently a house of an acquaintance seemed awkward, but does not derail a very enjoyable story.

Feeding Frenzy - Matt Hults
This is one of those twisted stories that, try as you might to dislike it for one reason or another, gets a firm grip on your inner-child who loved the impossible. Everything in this story fits perfectly and draws a reader in deep.

Wings - Jessica Brown
Nothing is safe here. Animals. Long-dead friends and loved ones. The story is short and to the point. Kinda like a kick in the groin; there is the initial shock...then, a flood of pain.

The Man Who Breaks the Bad News - Kealan Patrick Burke
Ever wonder what it would be like to exist as a self-aware cadaver? Me either. However, this quirky story takes you for a very interesting ride.

Immunity - Jeff Strand
This was the only story I'd read before. I'm just not a fan of flash fiction. The story is clever, I just didn't dig it.

In the Land of the Blind - Robert Swartwood
Fairly high-concept stuff here. This was the first story to really stand out as something different.

Nowhere People - Gary McMahon
My love of all things British continues and is fed by this noir-esque tale that - if Americanized - (Heaven forbid!) would play out against the backdrop of our Civil Rights turmoil in the 1960's South.

Muddy Waters - Brian Knight
Suffering from the poorest editing of the bunch, the story still packs a pleasant wallop. It is entertaining if not overly original.

Darkness Comprehended - Harry Shannon and Gord Rollo
I often wonder when two people share credits, "Who wrote which part?" If not for the Baby-Scene in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, this tale would be even more disturbing.

Connections - Simon McCaffery
Sad and very special. This story was one of my favorites. It is rich in its darkness and emotional depth.

Sign of the Times - John Grover
A bit like seeing a stand-up comedian doing marriage material. The story still draws a response, but it reminded me too much of a story that I've read a hundred times before. (Even if I'd read it in 2002)

After Life - Jeff Parish
More flash fiction. The writing is fine, it just doesn't grab me any more than a prompt in the most recent edition of Writers Digest.

Paradise Denied - John L. French
My favorite of the bunch. It is a wonderful twist on the "whodunit" story. What to do in a world where the Rapture may have occurred, the dead return, and one of them walks in to a detective's office wanting to know who killed him.

On the Usefullness of Old Books - Kim Paffenroth
Never disappointing, Paffenroth can take something so gruesome and make it read like literary fiction. Some may be put off by his turning of phrases, but he brings an intimacy to a story of a father and son surviving in the post-apocalypse and creates a story that defines a generation gap in a whole new way.

The Revelations of Dr. Maitland - Charles Black
With an M. Night Shyamalan ending, this story almost seems like an excerpt of something bigger. It is one of the shorter stories, and it almost feels like the reader is cheated by gaining such a small glimpse of a much grander tale.

Pegleg and Paddy Save the World - Jonathan Mayberry.
This tale first appeared in the Permuted Press Anthology, History is Dead. It made me realize even more clearly why my own submission was rejected. You will never think about the Great Chicago Fire in the same manner after this very fun story.

SKN-3 - Steven E. Wedel
Perhaps if it was filmed in black and white with the cast of MST3K heckling from the front row, I might've enjoyed the story more. It just did not seem to fit with so many other enjoyable offerings.

Fishing - Jason Brannon
Quick. Quirky. Disturbing. In just a few short pages, Jason Brannon manages to deliver the most unsettling story of the bunch. It is the kind of story that makes you wonder what is going on in somebody's mind that makes them so wrong.

Groundwood - Bev Vincent
Not the strongest story (which is how many anthologies wrap up) but still worthy. This tale with the odd angle of converting zombies into paper products at a mill lets the reader fill in all the nastiness. The narration does not bother with scenes of gore, instead, just enough it told so that, when you start getting squeamish, it is your own doing.
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on June 27, 2011
James Roy Daley did a great job in collecting this first volume of zombie fiction. It's a large book (110,000 words and nineteen stories) that's filled with all sorts of narratives: shocking humor rubs elbows with more mundane existentialism in these pages. It's a nice break from the "run, scavenge, fight" school of zombie fiction (although fans of that type of thing won't be turned off by this book, either).

Best New Zombie Tales, Vol 1 was in the first batch of books that I purchased for the Kindle, and it has some formatting issues. Many of the paragraph indents didn't make translate for a few stories. It's a minor deal and wasn't a distraction. There were some pretty glaring typos, strangely enough, in just one of the stories (which is a little strange).

Still, minor stuff...

I enjoyed all of the stories to some extent, though a few clearly stood out. Ray Garton's "Zombie Love," a chilling story of the occult and the sorrow of lost love, was a fantastic way to begin the anthology. Mrs. Kobylka is the star here, a finely drawn character with veiled intentions. Keith, our protagonist, is a sympathetic character; the scenes in the third act, when the horror of just how far his love for Natalie has pushed him over the edge, are chilling. I think I honestly flinched while reading them.

Oh, and then there's Baltazar. Balty is a trip and, even though we see it coming, nothing quite pulls at the heartstrings like the thing Balty says to Keith in the third act.

Scary and compelling, this was a great tale among a bunch of fine work.

"Feeding Frenzy," by Matt Hults, was an interesting, frightening story. It felt like a mix between some Lovecraftian dimensional horror with a little bit of Serlingesque Twilight Zone on the side. Oh yeah, and it takes place in one of my favorite horror locales--the bizarre country diner. Scary and well written, this one will stick with you...

"The Man Who Breaks The Bad News" and "On The Usefulness Of Old Books" were really strong, polished tales that excelled in world building and delivered the chills with a dose of caution and morality.

My favorite tale, and one that was echoing through my mind a few days after I read it, was Simon McCaffery's "Connections." The relationship between father and son was very nicely rendered, which made the heartbreaking final act all the more difficult to take. McCaffery writes well--clear, concise prose that slowly ratchets the tension up until our characters' lives are literally crashing down all around them.

It's a nice collection--one a zombie lover will enjoy, but also an anthology that fans who like a little bit of attention and care in their narratives can appreciate. Exposition is accentuated in many of these stories, to good effect, and the authors took their care with plot. And a majority of the stories shared, at their core, some interesting discussions on the nature of human experience in the face of harsh conflict.

Very satisfying collection--I'll be taking a look at volume two down the road...
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on February 22, 2016
Perfect collection! Stories just long enough to finish while waiting in the car for someone to get off work, in the doctor's office waiting room or on the train. Great collection for something complete just before bed too. This one is a keeper!
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on April 16, 2013
As with most horror lovers..I've fallen into a Zombie phase. I got into alot of the stories here. Which is disturbing when I found out how some of them ended. Some were sad. Some were gory. Some were just disgusting. Very different and entertaining.
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on July 27, 2011
Not a clunker in the bunch. My only issue is the indent formatting is messy in places, but the content is so good... well, I stopped noticing it. So I shouldn't even mention it. But there you have it. Seriously, the stories in this anthology are excellent and, as promised by the introduction, are all unique. Kudos to the editor(s) and the authors. I will actively seek out books and stories by all of you.
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on June 13, 2012
These stories are, for the most part, wonderful. That's why the one clunker right in the middle (Muddy Waters) really jumped out even more to me. It reads like a story a 5th grader self-published. There were so many editing errors I began to wonder if anyone had even reviewed the story before including it in this otherwise excellent anthology. I mean glaring errors, like these gems:
"Muddy fir hung in dark clumps from it's strangely elongated face"
"It's swollen belly a floating restraint for flies."
"on the heal of that"
It's unfortunate that right in the middle of this otherwise strong collection of stories sits this bomb. The rest of the anthology does still make it well worth it to purchase this; I'm not sorry I spent $3.99 on it and I am thoroughly enjoying the rest of it.
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on April 5, 2011
Having an interest in Zombies I decided to buy this book. I am glad I did, the stories in this book are so good that you cant help but read more and more. I am not a dedicated reader (meaning I do not read daily/often) but this book made me want to read and read until it was finished! I plan to purchase vol. 2.
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on February 13, 2014
Zombies have been a trend for the past few years, with the Romeroesque slow-zombies as well as the 28-Days fast ones, and everything in between. This anthology does a great job of including all different types of zombies, as well as different interpretations on how the survivors react, and even how the zombies first come to be. For anyone who loves zombies, I highly recommend this anthology as well as Vol.2 & Vol.3.
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