Katherine Hajer's Reviews > Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies

Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies by Victoria Dunn
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Sep 23, 2012

it was amazing

Imagine a book with the whip-smart, quick dialogue of His Girl Friday, a book that grabs you by the lapels and drags you into its story before you even get a chance to say, "Wait, what is bog snorkeling, anyways? And are these zombies like the ones in Night of the Living Dead, or more like 28 Days Later? And why the heck are they Welsh?"

By the time you find your feet again, you're a hundred pages in and too busy following the bickering-yet-mostly-intrepid team from Odyssey International on their latest paranormal maintenance assignment. All of your questions from the previous paragraph will be answered by then, but if you react to the book like I did, you're too busy giggling to care.

Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies cheerfully lets its freak flag fly, yet never loses the reader. The narrative is third-person, but focuses on Alice, a former telephone psychic who took the Odyssey International job without reading the fine print on the contract, and who seems to consider regretting her career decision simply as part of the daily grind. In this Munsters-at-the-office world, she's the "normal" one who sticks out since she's "only" psychic. She's also the newest employee, which means many of her questions to her co-workers are the reader's questions too. Somehow the compound author, Victoria Dunn, manages to keep the exposition light and forward-moving. The experience is sort of like going through a Tunnel of Love ride that someone's adjusted to run super-fast, but in a fun way.

Behind the infighting on Alice's task team and the suspense over whether they will be successful in halting a zombie infestation in a remote Welsh village, there's actually some serious themes being explored. A lot of the conflict is around whether or not zombies are a) still alive and b) still human. The conflict subtly explores the general attitude towards health and disease in society, giving a quiet critique of how people with, ahem, noticeable illnesses are treated by "healthys".

This conflict is deftly highlighted by the romance subplot. Yes, there are zombies, bog snorkeling, psychics, bickering co-workers, and a romance subplot. And it totally works.

Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies is the third offering from independent press The Workhorsery. It fits nicely with their two previous books in providing a fun read with some substance to make the experience worthwhile.
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