Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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There is a lot of zombie love in this collection, from the traditional drag and moan to beings a bit more disturbing (dead babies, anyone?). Keaton dips a toe in the zombie story trope pool, but most of the stories in this collection approach the undead from creative angles, appealing to readers across the spectrum.
Green Horns opens the book. Fans of the reality show The Deadliest Catch will immediately be drawn in by its not-so-subtle homage to the series. The main character, Jake, is a complicated fella—kinda love him, kinda hate him—but that’s what makes the story so great. The reader is dragged by the narrative’s current to its cringe-worthy (in the best way) conclusion.
I was immediately drawn into …And I’ll Scratch Yours. Holy creativity, Batman. This story feels pulled from a Hitchcock nightmare. But read it carefully! If you skim, you’ll miss the subtle link to Green Horns. This story is clever, sickly ironic, and gives new meaning to needing a hand.
It’s not often you find a story that does zombie animals without being cheesy. Do the Münster Mash borders on the cheese, but doesn’t quite take a bite. The more of this collection you read, the more you notice Keaton’s skill in subtle story-telling. He isn’t afraid to let the reader make their own conclusions. In fact, he forces us to.
In What’s Worse? the reader witnesses the snowball breakdown of Jason, a man with little grip on reality to begin with. Regardless of Jason’s repulsive behavior, the reader turns pages, needing to see something bad happen to him. On a side note, do not read this particular story to kill time during a car wash. Trust me.
Zee Bee & Bee is my favorite by far in this collection. It’s like Chuck Klosterman meets Kevin Smith meets Wes Craven. Sounds like a cluster-fuck, but the marriage is beautiful. The story runs the gamut of emotions, all while being funny. Dialogue is Keaton’s strongest skill, in my opinion, and it’s showcased well here.
I can’t testify for The World’s Shortest Zombie Story’s claims, but I will say this—only seven days?
Have kids? Don’t read The Ball Pit. Or do, because it’s great, but beware because it’s disgusting. Even as I write this, sitting in the Adult Area of an indoor playground, I can see the ball pit—children screaming and generally losing their minds—and am having flashbacks to this story. Good thing I have my running shoes on.
The Doppelganger Radar is another great example of Keaton’s skill with dialogue. My only gripe with this story is that I wish it’d been longer. There’s more story to tell with these characters and I need to read it.
Gunsmoke meets Pet Semetary in Three Ways Without Water. It’s in the style of a classic gunslinger story with the added bonus of the undead. There’s more subtle story-telling here as the zombies play second-fiddle to the story’s ‘real’ problems—no law, no water. I’m not a western fan, but I still enjoyed this story.
Stealing Propeller Hats from the Dead is overall creative, well-told, and a joy to read. While most zombie stories focus on the apocalypse and the chaos that ensues, Keaton chose to focus on the aftermath—the many ways our lives could change should the dead rise and voices on the wind cry, “Brains!” I look forward to more from Keaton, as I’m sure you will, too.