Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Where the Dead go to Die @AaronDries & @MarkAGunnells #Horror #Suspense #Zombies

The Plot:

There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it’s time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Euthanize to survive

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore—at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon-to be-dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won’t be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.

Aaron Dries

Raised in a small New South Wales town in Australia, the former video store clerk, pizza delivery boy, retail specialist, aged-care nurse, document scanner, video editor, commissioned artist, and amateur filmmaker always had a strong interest in creating stories. Were it hand-drawn X-Files comic books or home-made movies starring himself and his family (the best of which had Aaron running over a friend with a lawnmower, followed closely by a remake of Scream starring his brother as Drew Barrymore), there was always something in the works.

Aaron graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Communications under his wing, majoring in creative writing and video production. As a filmmaker, he won a number of awards for his short films at home and abroad, including Best Film at the Newcastle Film Festival for Placebo, coinciding with the publication of his earliest stories in literary magazines.
His first novel, House Of Sighs, was originally written under the title Disunity for the Leisure Books/Rue Morgue/Chizine Publications Fresh Blood Contest. The premise of the novel stemmed back to a local murder that took place in Aaron’s adolescence. A mother on his pizza delivery route shot and murdered her husband and children before turning the gun upon herself. As was the case with everyone who read about the incident, Aaron’s mind churned with questions of morality. Why do bad things happen to good people? What is the origin of evil? What makes apparently sane people do insane acts? These questions would become the genesis for House Of Sighs some years later.

When he is not writing, Aaron Dries is thinking about writing, or upcoming film projects. He is also an avid traveler. The first draft of his debut was written over a three month period on a borrowed semi-functional laptop whilst living in overseas hostels.

Mark Allan Gunnells:

Mark Allan Gunnells has been writing since he was ten years old. His first book, A Laymon Kind of Night, was published by Sideshow Press in 2009. Since then he has put out three more books with Sideshow: the two-novella Whisonant/Creatures of the Light combo, a short story collection entitled Tales from the Midnight Shift Vol. I, and the Halloween themed Dark Treats. He also has put out the novella Asylum with The Zombie Feed, and a digital collection entitled Ghosts in the Attic with Bad Moon Books. He recently released his first published novel, The Quarry, with Evil Jester Press. He still lives in his hometown of Gaffney, SC.


Horror is not my cup of tea, so I probably should have turned down Where the Dead Go to Die when the authors’ publisher asked me to review it. I accepted it for two reasons: the zombies were infected by a disease, and I somehow convinced myself someone would find a cure. Which part of horror did you not get, Weber? And it took place in my hometown, Chicago.

So, okay. It’s horror. Spoiler alert. There isn’t going to be a cure. It’s not going to have a feel-good ending. That’s not why I’m giving it a three-rose rating. Chicago is.

It is possible to write about a place you’ve never been to, but it helps to at least study maps of the place so you can build a believable world there. Apparently neither author ever spent much time here, nor did they really study the Chicagoland Area. Where the Dead Go to Die had no real local references. Where was The Hospice? In Streeterville near the Northwest Memorial complex? On the South Side near the University of Chicago? The West Side near the University of Illinois Medical Center, Rush Medical, somewhere up on the Northwest Side? Old Irving Park? Logan Square? What are the cross-streets? State and Chicago? Irving and Cicero? Why does everyone have a Russian accent? I have a few neighbors from Eastern Europe and Chicago has a large Polish population, but most Polish families immigrated here decades ago and everyone speaks English except a few very elderly grandparents.

If you’re world-building in a place that already exists, you need to do your research, or explain why it doesn’t resemble itself at all. Otherwise, you’ll lose the respect of natives/residents like me. I did cry at the end. That's why I gave it three roses, but I would only recommend this book if you’ve never been to Chicago and you don’t know any better. Oh, and if you like horror.

Author Websites: 
Aaron Dries:
Warnings:  Violence, Gore
Length:  197 Pages
Digital Price:  $4.99

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