I’ve seen a number of genre mashups in the past several years. Space cowboys vs. gangsters, aliens vs. cowboys, vampires vs. Abe Lincoln, you get the idea. Some of these are great stories that bring new life to a tired genre. But if an author smashes two genres together without a good reason, they are as appetizing as a peanut butter and salami sandwich.
Acadia’s Law is a zombie apocalypse vs. Romance mashup, and I admit, I was skeptical. I’ve seen some good romantic subplots in The Walking Dead. Hell, I’ve written a few more in my head that involved Norman Reedus, but romance seems to take a back seat in most tales of the end of the world. There are a lot of women reading and writing in the zombie fiction genre, and Tracy Ellen offers a delicious story that’s action-packed, romantic and funny, with plenty of danger and squishy undead gore.
I’m always happy to see women as protagonists. Acadia King is a businesswoman and self-described dictator. She works her network like a pro and can organize a small army of people to fortify her ranch when she realizes a “4377” emergency is looming. She wasn’t counting on three professional football players–one of whom she’d had a little fun with in an elevator–following her home from a night out on the town. She deals with it, and him, as best she can. She’s intelligent, sarcastic, and some of her one-liners are hilarious.
Acadia is one cape short of a superhero. A character with this much going for her needs to have some flaws to make her a bit more real. She has self-esteem issues and is still grieving her husband’s death, so I’m hoping that the next books show her dealing with crises and making mistakes in a very human way.
I found a few things in the novel that dumped me out of the story abruptly. The author uses a lot of clichés. “Hell bent for leather,” and “just what the doctor ordered” and “bet the farm” are just a few examples. While I can give a pass to these things said in dialogue by a character, there were so many that they stuck out. In addition to this, two of the football players’ speech and manners are so clichéd it is often offensive.
The action scenes are fantastic. This is no pretty romantic tea party with zombies on the sidelines! Ellen is talented at showing scenes of bloody chaos. The outbreak in the hotel and the flight to safety had me right there in the lobby watching the outbreak in shock. Another scene involving a shotgun, a zombie, and a very small space was delightfully horrific. As for the rest of the book, not all the bad guys are shambling biters, and not every perceived threat is real.
Overall, the book was a bit slow to get started, but once I was past the first quarter of the novel, the pacing was good and the action (both zombie and, um, otherwise) was better. Books are judged by their covers. The cover art is amateurish, and I fear that readers will turn away from a good, independently published book because of it. I hope the author invests in a capable cover artist for the next books in the series.
I recommend this book to zombie fans, especially women who want to see a little more than just a wink and a nod at romantic entanglements between characters. It is absolutely written for a mature audience, not suitable for younger readers.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Originally published at www.bookie-monster.com