Stephen Jones (Editor)
Fall River Press
Death is not the end! If you are too rational to believe otherwise, then we invite you to read the stories collected in The Monster Book of Zombies. Here are tales of the walking dead reanimated by black magic, weird science, outer space viruses, and plain old human irresponsibility. No matter how they are resurrected, all indulge in malevolent mischief and mayhem that will make you think twice about dismissing the dead as done. The twenty-six zombie tales gathered here cover more than a century and a half of horror history, and show the many aspects of this nightmare of the living dead in all of its gory glory. Soulless, mindless, and unstoppable, the zombies that shamble through these stories are sure to strike terror into the hearts of the most hardened horror reader. Beware the walking dead!
Taking by the blurb on the Publishing History Page page of this book, and verifying it online, The Monster Book of Zombies appears to have began life under the title The Mammoth Book of Zombies back in 1993 or so. If so, then this has technically been out long before zombies surged back into a thing, and is totally not a money grab to capitalize on a craze by a chain of bookstores by reprinting it on their own publishing company under a slightly different title. Never mind the fact that Fall River Press is a subsidiary of Barnes & Nobel. And also never mind that this edition was published around the same time that zombies were making a serious comeback and using a tag line that references a certain popular television show.
Also, never mind the sarcasm, because I totally bought this back when I saw it on one of their DISCOUNT BOOKS areas in 2012. Pander to me all you want; I loves me some zombies.
Anyway, considering the collection listed here, as the title suggests there are several short stories about zombies–both the Voodoo variety and the ghoulish flesh eating variety, and all points in-between–collected here in one convenient and nifty hardcover book. Of the authors here, the ones that I am very much familiar with are Clive Barker (“Sex, Death and Starshine”, which I first read in his Books Of Blood collection), Ramsey Campbell (“Rising Generation”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”), Charles L. Grant (“Quietly Now”), M. R. James (“A Warning to the Curious”), Brian Lumley (“The Disapproval of Jeremy Cleave”), the obligatory H. P. Lovecraft (“Herbert West: Reanimator”), Robert Bloch (“The Dead Don’t Die!”), and Joe R. Langsdale (the umpteenth reprint of “On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” I’ve seen). That’s not to say any of the other stories by the authors that I didn’t immediately recognize were slouches, as stories from the likes of Manly Wade Wellman (“The Song of the Slaves”), R. Chetwynd-Hayes (“The Ghouls”), Karl Edward Wagner (“Sticks”), Basil Cooper (“The Grey House”), Nicholas Royle (“The Crucian Pit”), Lisa Tuttle (“Treading the Maze”), David Riley (“Out of Corruption”), Graham Masterton (“The Taking of Mr. Bill”), J. Sheridan le Fanu (“Schalken the Painter”), David Sutton (“Clinically Dead”), Les Daniels (“They’re Coming for You”), Hugh B. Cave (“Mission to Margal”), Michael Marshall Smith (“Later”), Peter Tremayne (“Marbh Bheo”), Dennis Etchison (“The Blood Kiss”), Christopher Fowler (“Night After Night of the Living Dead”) and Kim Newman (“Patricia’s Profession”) kept the variety of styles and imaginative stories from getting too stale or blurring together.
Overall, The Monster Book of Zombies was a really good find, and it’s a very good collection of multifaceted stories by different authors writing on a similar topic. If you ever find yourself perusing the discount racks at the local Barnes & Noble and see this sitting there, pick it up. You won’t be sorry.