The Last Christmas Gift: A Heartwarming Holiday Tale of the Living Dead by Nathan Shumate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don't generally read zombie stories, and I NEVER read Christmas stories, but this novella comes from the host of one of my favorite websites, Lousy Book Covers. When he offered a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I went for it.
I'm glad I did. The book is well written, with a middle-aged narrator talking about his childhood memories in a convincing and evocative manner. When our hero was eight, he received a strange doll from his father, who was recently killed in action in Vietnam. Then, shortly before Christmas, his beloved grandfather dies. The boy has been living at his grandfather's house, which just so happens to be situated across the street from a graveyard. Since this is a zombie story, you don't get bonus points for figuring out what that doll ends up doing!
Shumate is especially strong when dealing with the relationship between the boy and his grandfather, as well as how the zombie attack changes the boy's perceptions, it being his first step to manhood. The attack itself is adequately handled but offers nothing new. We've had enough of these attacks already! I must say that I found the attack a bit overlong and wanted more about the boy's relationship with his grandfather and absent father. Also, the character of the depressed mother, who sleeps through the entire novel thanks to her pills, deserved to be filled out a bit more.
But these are minor criticisms from someone who is not in this book's target audience. If you are at all a fan of zombies or Christmas horror tales, pick this one up. It's a different take on the genre and worth your while.
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