My review of Dead Earth: Sanctuary by Mark Justice and David T. Wilbanks has just been posted on Hellnotes.
This is the third in the Dead Earth series and, though I have not
read any of the previous books, I found it incredibly easy to catch up
with what had gone before. So ably have the authors provided enough of
the back story that this can easily read as a stand alone volume, though
I admit, having finished it, I could certainly go back and read the
earlier ones too!
As in any good zombie story, the undead are merely a backdrop, a
raison d’etre for the situation in which the human characters have found
themselves. Their life stories, fears, oddities, ambitions, prejudices,
their all too human fallibilities are what the story is all about, and
in this the authors succeed with deceptive ease, creating an interesting
cast, from the meek, frightened cook, Nestor, to the psychotically
damaged army bad ass, Salina, who for the first half of the book is the
main villain, with her gang of deranged killers.
The main group with whom the book is concerned is headed by Jubal
Slate from the earlier novels. They brush up against Salina’s gang and
in the interplay of action that follows it becomes obvious that a deadly
confrontation is almost certainly going to erupt between them – perhaps
too obviously, as in this book nothing can be taken for granted, and
villains one minute can become, if not perhaps heroes the next,
certainly something less villainous, especially when pitted against
enemies far worse than shambling zombies or sociopathic gang bangers.
It is a fast paced book and the dangers rarely let up for a
paragraph. We are told that in the previous books the zombie threat was
created by a race of invaders from another dimension known as the necros
as a means to conquer the earth. This plan has already been thwarted by
the time Dead Earth: Sanctuary begins, but the enemy has not given up
yet. Instead they have sent a demonic creature to kill their chief
enemy, Jubal Slate. Unaware of the threat, Jubal is leading the remnants
of his group in search of what may be a mythical place called Sanctuary
where, he has heard, there are no zombies and his people can live
secure from danger. Even though he is still skeptical about it, it is
nevertheless the best of all options open to them and, while handing en
route the machinations of Salina and her gang and the threats from a
deranged serial killer, not to mention the ever present zombie threat,
Jubal takes his group to Sanctuary – which is when things become even
more perilous for them all. The book surges on to some startling twists
and an apocalyptic climax.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with plenty of action and a cast
of well drawn and, for the most part, sympathetic characters.