bentley little the walkingBentley Little
Signet
2000

It begins in a small Southwestern town. Then it spreads. Across the country a series of strange deaths have overtaken the living. And a stranger compulsion has overtaken the dead. In a travesty of life they drift with bizarre purpose toward an unknown destination. The walkers have become an obsession for investigator Miles Huerdeen. His father is one of them. Now, lured into the shadow of the restless dead, Miles is a step closer to a secret as old as time…to a reality as dark as hell. For Miles is following them into the deep end of an unfathomable nightmare.

It had been a while since I’ve read a good Bentley Little yarn. He’s always good for a chilling tale of supernatural shenanigans. I’ve had this particular title of his, The Walking, seemed like your standard zombie tale–the dead somehow getting up and walking about, and all. And in a way, it is…only, it’s not the standard modern zombie story that most would assume it would be.

Because, let’s face it: ever since George A. Romero hit us all with his classic Night Of The Living Dead back in 1968, whenever we think of zombies, we think of flesh eating ghouls. But the zombies here in The Walking are of the classic pre-Romero era of zombie lore; the undead are reanimated by way of black magicks and controlled by whoever’s pulling the supernatural strings. In this case, it’s an ancient witch with strong succubus tendencies who put a curse on a settlement of witches in an Arizona town in the mid-1800s. This results in the decedents of the settlement to develop a tendency to just get up and walk off after they’re declared Living Impaired, much to the consternation of their family and loved ones. Seems, after all this time, and despite being trisected and having her pieces left inside a cave, the ancient succu-witch is still kickin’, and has plans for total and complete Armageddon. Gotta admire the ambition, there.

The Walking flashes back and forth between two eras–the modern day era, which focuses mainly on main character Miles Huerdeen and the odd occurrences that are happening with certain dead folk suddenly wanting to work on their cardio, and the mid-19th Century founding of a community of witches that became the epicenter of all the modern-day wackiness.

For the most part, The Walking was not what I was expecting by merely reading the back-cover blurb, and this is a good thing. I was expecting your standard zombie apocalypse type yarn…or if not an apocalypse, then at least a contained localized event. This is more of a supernatural noir-ish tale, which I found rather entertaining. It has Little’s signature quirkiness, and kept me engaged from page one to the end of the thing. Check it out for sometime.

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