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on June 28, 2012
The Fields is a wonderfully crafted tale of ignorance, weakness, and evil--of the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's dark, atmospheric and brilliant. Ty makes us feel a part of the book's time period and of Billy's world, with his smooth prose and attention to detail. It's an original supernatural horror story, and alone it's great as is, but it's also a story with a message, a lesson. It has zombies, but I wouldnt think of it as a typical zombie novel, but a horror novel with the undead in it. And as everyone knows, a great tale is always about the humans, the most wicked of all monsters.
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on August 29, 2012
It turns out that one way to go forward with the zombie genre is to go backwards--in time, anyway. Ty Schwamberger's novella, The Fields, offers up the story set in the days following the American Civil War of Billy Fletcher, a young plantation owner in dire need of help to keep the farm going before the tobacco crop dies. He inherited it after his father passed away, a cruel slave-owner who didn't just exploit those indentured on his farm, but tortured them as well, even burying slaves behind his expansive tobacco fields. Even his son wound up the receiving end of more than a few beatings for showing sympathy for the slaves and other deeds considered sins in his father's eyes.

But despite vowing to run the plantation differently from his father, to work the land himself rather than resort to slave labor, the young man is failing. Enter a man named Abraham who knocks on Billy's door one day and offers him a solution. There's no real telling where Abraham came from, but he sure seems to know a lot about Billy and his father, and assures Billy that what he needs to do is follow in his father's footsteps. And that's something that Billy is adamant about avoiding, because he doesn't want to be a slave-owner like his father. But what if the slaves are already dead?

This was a tremendously creepy zombie story, due mainly because of the racial current running through it. The idea that a person would only be enslaved during when they're alive, but when they're dead as well, is an unsettling one to say the least. One thing I had trouble envisioning as I read the book was the farm. Billy, Abraham, and the zombies jumped off the page, but the plantation itself felt very much like a stage-dressing when I was expecting something much more vivid. But, maybe tobacco fields just aren't that much to look at.

Apex seems to have a knack for using its imprint, The Zombie Feed, to showcase books in the genre that stray from the road most traveled. And Ty is an emerging talent in the horror genre, to be sure. I'd only read some of his short fiction prior to this, so it was nice to sit down with a longer work and see how he brings a story to life when there's a little more room to breathe. I've got a couple more of his novellas on my to-be-read pile, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking them out, too.
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on January 16, 2012
Fantastic tale of the olde south as much a coming of age tale and family sins as a zombie fare,far from the usual standard outing.A unique gripping tale that causes many thoughts to linger within the reader upon completion,short but solid.This is my 3rd reading of this authors work and I must confess all are good,highly rccommended to all fans of the genre..
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on January 8, 2012
I found this review. I couldn't have said it better myself so I copied and pasted it:

The Fields by Ty Schwamberger
Review by Howard Allan

After I received an advanced copy of Ty Schwamberger's novella The Fields, I turned the first pages and immediately began reading kudos by notable authors and magazines such as Gary A. Braunbeck and Shroud Magazine. I never judge a book by its cover, but I do start judging books by their praise. And with an introduction by Jonathan Maberry (Rot and Ruin, Patient Zero), I was excited to start reading.
Jonathan Maberry starts off his introduction stating "The Fields is a morality tale. With Zombies." Maberry then explains to the reader that zombie tales are more than cannibalistic and mindless corpses. These tales, if written with feelings and responsibility, remind the reader zombies are people and they have life and their own stories. This is what Ty Schwamberger accomplishes with The Fields. He, as many authors have tried but failed, brings out the emotion of the characters but not just the living, but the dead also with much success.
The opening chapter sets The Fields pace; quick with that sense of emotion that is mentioned in Maberry's introduction. The reader is drawn in as Billy Fletcher, son of plantation owner in the Deep South, is racing through the darkness with zombie in tow. Schwamberger describes Billy's friendly relationship with the former slave now turned zombie Samuel. Yes, that could happen and yes, if you've studied American history, friendly relationship between slaves and owners did indeed exist. With not giving away too much of the plot, Billy survives the zombie encounter.
The novella moves on to an odd and unexpected meeting between Billy and a man named Abraham, a long since forgotten friend of Billy's deceased and "hard son-of-a-gun" father. The plantation is in dire straits and Abraham promises Billy that with help, the plantation can once again be resurrected to its former glory, the days before the Civil war.
Unsure of Abraham's motives, Billy keeps himself from revealing too much about the past few years of his life and about his father's death until Abraham's cryptic mannerisms gets the best of Billy. Billy then explains the past years and again, Abraham offers help. This help is sinister. To transform the plantation back its glory days involves exhuming the dead slaves from the plantation cemetery to revivify the slaves and the plantation.
Billy scoffs. But by the end of the day, he is overcome by exhaustion by tending to the tobacco fields and the livestock alone. He is clouded by flashbacks of his father's brutality against the slaves. Billy relives moments of slaves being tied up and beaten. He even relives his own abuse by his father for simple mistakes such as arriving at school late.
The writing of the beatings is brilliant. The sounds of the whipping stick come to life through Schwamberger's descriptive writing. The reader can nearly feel every whip and the pain that the slave and even Billy endure.
More so, the reader is able to relate to Billy's struggle for parental acceptance. Like many children today, Billy feels he hasn't lived up to their parents' expectations, especially his father's. And with another meeting with Abraham, Billy decides it's time that he makes his deceased father proud of his son for the first time.
The pace of The Fields picks up from here. It was already fast-paced but now it's an enjoyable and emotional rollercoaster. Billy knows he has to follow through with Abraham's continuing offer of help, to exhume the dead slaves. What Billy will find out from Abraham though, it's not the slaves or the plantation that Billy is truly resurrecting.
The chapters to follow describe the dead as they appear in old zombie movies from the 1940s and 1950s, mindless field workers who go about their work (ala White Zombie staring Bela Lugosi). Schwamberger even pays homage to the Haitian form of zombification, harmless zombies kept mindless in order for them to help their masters. This is where the originality comes in. Schwamberger doesn't create typical flesh-eating zombies, he draws his influence from old school horror, a practice getting lost by today's influence from AMC's The Walking Dead and the George A. Romero generation. It's Schwamberger's ability to ignore the typical and easy copout of the modern zombies that leads to the surprise ending, which deserves its own praise. The reader will never see it coming.
The press release for The Fields, with its many well-know author kudos, is dead on with their praises. The Fields isn't your average zombie tale. It's much more. It's a game changer. It delivers what the genre is suffering from, which is originality. It negates the typical overrun town and city streets of the gut-thirsty walking dead so typical of the majority of novels, novellas, and anthologies. The Fields brings emotion, ignites the need for unity, highlights the important struggle of family responsibility and above all, brings fun back into the zombie genre. Schwamberger also reminds us; the dead have a story to tell and to live.
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on August 1, 2012
Positives: Details! Schwamberger puts the reader right into the story with the careful construction of setting. How many people would think of cow milk? Phrases like "the cruel nature of the sun" make great reading! Schwamberger captures the psychological fear of power and its abuses quite well. He conveys intense fear with very little gore or violence. This is the way zombie tales should be done!

Negatives: The last paragraph was a bit of a letdown, so stop before you get there!

Summary: Read this! One of the best zombie tales going right now.
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on June 13, 2013
Several weeks ago, our members engaged in an intense debate over zombies. There are many great zombie stories out there, but are they Gothic literature? We agreed that although many are fantastic horror, zombies just don't quite fit the Gothic literary tradition. The emphasis in a zombie story is gore over suspense. Character and setting development take second place to the horror elements through plot. Ty Schwamberger's novella The Fields is a rare exception. It's both a fantastic horror story and a great piece of Gothic fiction. Rather than an eating brains/ walking dead story, Schwamberger has crafted a tale of human frailty, ignorance, and evil within the framework of the zombie story. The walking dead serve the Gothic narrative rather than serve as the plot device. It's more a tale of humans than shambling corpses and this one of the most critical facets to Gothic literature. Do not be afraid of the zombies with this one.

If you like: Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft

Gothic Readers Book Club does not receive payment for reviews. All books are promotional copies.
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on July 4, 2012
I lover this story by Ty Schwamberger

Billy's father died and left him the farm
and he has to have help to get it back up
and running as it was in his fathers days,
and he has to have help doing so.
What a great story.
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on June 15, 2012
It's a great (although not your typical) zombie story (think kind of The Serpent and the Rainbow meets a Gone with The Wind with attitude) that takes place in the post Civil War south. The well meaning son of a deceased slave driving tobacco plantation owner, Billy Fletcher, is having trouble sleeping. Nightmares filled with horrible rotted monsters walking through his tobacco fields by moonlight. Visions of gnarled, reaching fingers, and cold chomping teeth fill his nights.

It's no wonder he's losing sleep. The stress of maintaining the farms huge crop has fallen on his shoulders. His father, one of the most successful farmers in three counties (who was full of dark secrets that now Billy must keep) haunts Billy's thoughts (in more ways than one) day and night. Not only is he the moral and character opposite of his murderous, furious, racist father, but the Civil War has ended, and abolition has robbed him of the help he needs to care for the starving, choking crop growing in the weedy, rock filled fields. Billy may not survive the long, cold winter if his tobacco plants keep dying and he ends the harvest with not enough crops to sell.

Enter Abraham, a pillar of a man with a stove-pipe hat that looks strangely similar to... well... the sworn enemy of former Confederates everywhere, the recently assassinated 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. This Abraham knocks on Billy's door, and whispers temptation into his longing ears. Billy doesn't trust Abraham from the start, maybe because he looks like the Union Army's former commander and chief, or maybe it's because he NEVER takes off his hat, and seems to disappear, literally melt, into the sunrise, but with the fertile whisperings of his father's ghost, Abrahams tempting seed WANTS to grow in Billy's mind.

The boy, a boy no longer must make a choice. Will he make a deal with the devil? Will he tap the blood of the land, and bring to the surface the sins of his departed father? Will he grow enough crop to sustain the plantation and survive the brutal winter?
A make-shift graveyard that holds savage secrets sits; the ground turned up, the dirt fresh.
In the moonlight, slumping shadows stretch across the sweet leaves of tobacco that grow from the blood stained ground in `THE FIELDS'!
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on January 27, 2013
With all of the glowing reviews Ty Schwamberger's novella, THE FIELDS, has garnered, I was really looking forward to diving into this short tale. I'm almost sorry I did. I don't know what story those other reviewers read, but it wasn't the same tale I plodded through! The story seemed to be padded with so much day-to-day minutiae and unnecessary filler, some judicious editing could have cut it down to near short story-length! And there were so many typos and grammatical errors, I wondered if anyone at all had proofed it! I'm sorry to be so blunt, but the prose, as well, seemd to me as if it had been written by a high schooler at best. And Billy's ignorance of the entire situation really distracted me from the plot (and I know he only had a fifth-grade education, despite being eighteen years old, but God the kid was stupid!?). And the plot, oh, man: yet another deal-with-the-devil tale that dragged on wayyyyy too long. It begged to be condensed into a decent short story. I'm still shaking my head over how many reputable writers praised this below-average morality tale! I can't recommended it at all.
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on April 5, 2012
Positives: Details! Schwamberger puts the reader right into the story with the careful construction of setting. How many people would think of cow milk? Phrases like "the cruel nature of the sun" make great reading! Schwamberger captures the psychological fear of power and its abuses quite well. He conveys intense fear with very little gore or violence. This is the way zombie tales should be done!

Negatives: The last paragraph was a bit of a letdown, so stop before you get there!

Summary: Read this! One of the best zombie tales going right now.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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