cover image Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead

Empty Graves: Tales of the Living Dead

Jonathan Maberry. WordFire, $38.99 (404p) ISBN 978-1-68057-225-4

The 16 horror stories in this repetitive collection from Stoker Award winner Maberry (Rot and Ruin) are written with great verve but too often suffer from a sameness of theme and incident. The majority are set in postapocalyptic milieus menaced by George Romero–style zombies and struck from the same narrative template: human characters first intuit that something inexplicable has upended the world, then spend the rest of the story fending off onslaughts of flesh-eating members of the living dead. Maberry is at his best when he deviates from this formula, as in “Calling Death,” an eerie tale steeped in rural folk legend; “A Small Taste of the Old Country,” about the weird fate meted out to Nazis hiding in Argentina; and “Son of the Devil,” a tale of frontier justice with an EC Horror Comics vibe. Though several of the tales stand well on their own, their clustering reduces their potency and capacity for surprises. This is best suited for die-hard zombie fans. [em](Sept.) [/em]