Braaaains? Not for These Zombies…

by Amy Wilkins, Harlequin.com Team

It seems that zombies are everywhere you look these days, especially with Halloween right around the corner. Zombies have even invaded Harlequin.com with a number of zombie-themed books from Gena Showalter’s Through the Zombie Glass to a zombie-battling couple in Lori Devoti’s Zombie Moon.

We’ve also been debating whether the zombie trend should stay dead, or if it’s still fresh (well, as “fresh” as reanimated corpses can be). You can join the discussion with your own thoughts on the state of zombies in the Harlequin Community but here’s a closer look at two zombie books that break away from the usual shambling brain-munchers. Beware—reading on might give you nightmares…

In Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield, Beaters – humans turned into ravenous cannibals by the genetically engineered kaysev plants — eat skin.

Just the skin.

While the victim is still alive.

*shudder*

Here’s one passage that made me fear for my epidermis:

 The Beaters loved only flesh. Skin. They did not eat muscle or sinew or bone, and they chewed sections of flesh free and then peeled them away, their jaw strength magnified by the disease and by their furious hunger. For that reason the wounds they made tended to be elongated, shreds and strips peeled away. Of course, when they were done it didn’t matter, since they feasted until little was left. Skinned, but otherwise intact, their victims were left alive and in agony, their deaths hours or days away. They died in the throes of the fever, but at least they never lived long enough to turn into monsters.

The victims of zombies in Nico Rosso’s The Last Night are dead before they get eaten, at least—but is being burned alive by the ashers so they can consume your ashes really any better? Check it out:

 They lurched across the open ground at the front of the crushed parking structure. Over a dozen ashers. Some tripped on the wires and chains, others broke through them. Every step brought the horrible grinding sound. Stone on stone. Their feet sparked like flint on the ground, bright flashes marking their rapid approach.

She hefted the steel pipe in her hands. This was the terrible part. Waiting. Charging down the hill to meet them would be certain death. On level ground, the ashers would overwhelm her and there would be nothing she could do to stop them from dragging her to their fires. She had to stand her ground on the battlement and wait for them to climb to her. In these fights, the survivors’ best hope was if the ashers tired of the pursuit and went to find something else that was easier to capture and burn and eat. In the worst case, the Fire Eaters would take a human and break off their attack to retreat with their prize. These ashers, though, seemed determined to feed on all of her group.

For more about Aftertime, The Last Night and other zombie books from Harlequin, click here.

What is your favorite twist on a zombie story?

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