Don't get me wrong: I used to love zombies. I was reading about them and watching movies about them when most of today's fans were on the tit. But I hate it when so many try to milk a genre to death. Too many zombie books, too many zombie movies.

But my job here (unpaid as it is) is to read and review what's happening in horror fiction. I dump a lot of this stuff on my poor, suffering partner, Andy, but I figured I'd jump on the grenade for this one.

And I'm sort of glad that I did.

In the world of Rot, zombies are created by a certain few with the power to do so. Loved ones that cannot bear to lose their dear departed can bring the dead back to a kind of life. But when they are no longer wanted they are taken to a place called Silver Springs Specialty Care Community. For a price your living dead can be watched and monitored as they slowly rot away from any resemblance to humanity.

There is a lot to recommend about Michele Lee's Rot. The author genuinely tries to bring human emotion and originality to her work. And she mainly succeeds at this. Rot is much better than the average thing of its kind I've tried to read. I give her major points for it.

Unfortunately there are some things about Rot that don't work. One, the first person narrator is a hard boiled war vet and supposed no-nonsense security head for Silver Springs. The voice didn't jibe with the type for me. I never got the feeling that I was in the hands of such a character. Two, this guy helps some zombies in a quest for truth and freedom, but the way they do it defies all logic and credibility.

I would have liked Rot to have been at least twice as long, with more attention to detail and a little more of a deliberate pace.

Still, the mystery in Rot is engaging and the conclusion is reasonably poignant. I can't recommend Rot without reservation, but zombie enthusiasts will want to check it out. And I won't discount Michele Lee and her writing, despite my dissatisfaction with certain elements of Rot. This novella shows talent that still needs to be honed and polished.

Rot is coming in August 2009 from Skullvines Press.

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