Book Review: Hungry For You by A. M. Harte
This is a solid collection of short stories and poetry that can be enjoyed one at a time or inhaled in one sitting. I went for the one sitting option.
In some stories Harte sticks to zombie tropes but in not all. The ones where she varies or surprises the reader in some way are definitely the stronger ones. She has an ability to imagine multiple different possible zombie apocalypses that are all, if not equally believable, still believable. Her dialogue is a definite strength, reading as incredibly realistic in the midst of fantastical happenings.
Where she excels though, and where I would encourage her to focus future horror writings, is when she uses the zombies and zombie apocalypse as a metaphor or an instigator for something in a relationship from women’s perspective. My three favorite stories from the collection–“Dead Man’s Rose,” “Seven Birds,” and “Alive”–all feature this element. In “Dead Man’s Rose,” the zombie is a metaphor for an abusive lover who refuses to grant the woman her freedom. In “Seven Birds” the surprise of the zombie apocalypse coincides nicely with an unexpected break-up (I particularly enjoyed that female character’s reaction to both). In “Alive” the female character must deal both with the zombie apocalypse and the emotional fall-out after a one-night stand with a co-worker. These are all three things modern women face in relationships and getting to see them take place in a world infested with zombies (one of my favorite kinds) was such a welcome change! Too often, especially in zombie movies, we see the apocalypse from a man’s perspective and not from a woman’s. I found myself saying to Harte in my head, “Ignore the male perspective and switch to just writing from the female perspective, because you do it so well!” For instance, it’s not every day in a female zombie fiction fan’s life that you come across a resonant passage like this:
When I am lonely for boys what I miss is their bodies. The smell of their skin, its saltiness. The rough whisper of stubble against my cheek. The strong firm hands, the way they rest on the curve of my back. (location 1206)
Never have I come across a passage in zombie fiction that so struck at the heart of what it is to be a modern straight woman, and to have that followed up by oh no zombies was just awesome.
There are a few shortcomings though. A couple of the stories simply felt too short, and a couple of them–“A Prayer to Garlic” and “Arkady, Kain, & Zombies”–just didn’t make much sense to me. I think the former would have benefited from being a bit longer with more explanation, whereas the latter actually felt too long and had a couple of plot holes that I couldn’t wrap my mind around. This collection is periodically more British than at other times. One short story revolves around tea to an extent that I’m afraid a Boston gal like myself just couldn’t quite relate to. I know that those more British stories will definitely appeal to the type who love Doctor Who for instance, though. I also really wish it included a table of contents. That would be super-helpful in revisiting those stories readers would like to revisit.
Overall this book is definitely worth the add to any zombie fan’s collection, but particularly to female zombie fans. It’s different and fun simultaneously.
4 out of 5 stars
Source: Smashwords copy from the author in exchange for my honest review