cover image The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead

Mark Twain and Don Borchert, Tor, $13.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 9780765327291

Humorist Borchert (Free for All) presents a novel from an alternate universe, complete with a charming mock-historical forward, in which Twain writes in, and about, an 1870s America plagued by an epidemic of violent, virus-created undead Zum. The book smoothly integrates much of Twain's plot and a modernized version of his actual text, with changed material such as sharpening fence posts replacing the task of whitewashing. A few gratuitous and gory zombie fights round things out. The mash-up is undeniably clever and well-done, but it fails to either significantly change the reader's perspective on the original or provide much in the way of satire, humor, or alternate history world-building, proving once again that a nifty idea isn't enough to make a satisfying read. (Aug.)