Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Caldecott Chronicles No. 1 by R.G. Bullet

Here is the description (from Amazon):

A unique, chilling and often hilarious zombie short story adventure set in Victorian England.
Caldecott Estate, the ancestral home of the 32nd Earl of Rothshire, is besieged. The undead are traipsing and crawling across overgrown lawns, intent on ripping the very flesh from the Earl’s body.
But many of them will not make it that far as the 32nd Earl has two things in their way: A prised Purdey shotgun and an accomplice named, Saffy. Saffy is a young and simple girl from the local village. She is quick of foot at setting traps, and dispatching the undead to the afterlife. She is endlessly coming up with cunning and disturbing methods to rid the estate of disease.
The bizarre and gruesome details are narrated in a journal by a very Aristocratic British gent. Get a first hand look on how the Victorian upper class deal with stumbling trespassers and see how one draws inspiration from a teenage girl born to kill.
 
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I have to admit, I had a really hard time getting started.  It is only my promise to the author to get this posted this week that forced me to sit down and read it after a number of false starts (hello - in time for Christmas).
The reasons?  First, I didn't know it was a zombie book when I agreed to do the review.  Second, the drawings made me thing it was a middle grade book for boys. 

That being said, once I was halfway through the first chapter I was hooked and read it all the way to the end in one sitting.

The story is set in 1896 England and told through the eyes of the 32nd Earl of Rothshire in a series of letters to his son Albert.  I liked the way this is done as we see the cold rigidity of the aristocratic earl in the beginning and then his gradual growth and personability as the story progresses. 

He unwillingly takes a local village girl, Saffy, under his wing and together with a horse named Willow and a kitten named Virtus, fight the zombie invasion.  Saffy is a spunky heroine and someone you can really root for.  She also provides humor (calls the earl 'Number 32).  By the end of the short story (121 pages), I was invested in both the Earl and Saffy.  Just to be clear - there isn't anything romantic between the two, at least not in the first book.  I get the impression Saffy is a young teen, the earl ,old with grey hair and a grown son.

The thing I didn't quite understand was the zombies.  I know the "shorthand".  Like when you say vampires, I immediately get that they're undead, drink blood and sleep in a coffin.  I get that zombies are undead and flesh eating.  But I wanted a little more backstory -- how did the county come to be infested with zombies?  Are these zombies unique in any way? (like Stephenie Meyer's vampires sparkle in sunlight).  

The ending was satisfying - not one of those cliffhanger types that I hate so much.  But it left the door open for more adventures.  The second book is already out and available (yeah, that is what I like - no waiting a year between books). 

All in all a very pleasant surprise.  I'm giving it four stars out of five - I liked it a lot but not sure you will. 

Note:  I was provided a copy by the author for review.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. I enjoyed read it !

    I'd just like to add that the great part about Zombies during this time of the year is that they can't walk too well in the snow. Not that they walk well anyway but the snow...well you get my point.

    I hope you invite me back again for some of my other stories.
    And readers (in the US/CAN) can enter the competition currently running on www.rgbullet.com-- bye for now! RGB

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  2. Awesome!

    Victorian era zombies are "rising" in popularity (nice pun, eh?). It will really take off after that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie comes out. :)

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