I was looking forward to reading this book (is it a novella or a novelette I can never remember the word lengths?) basically from the moment I read the preview chapters in Damian's previous short story collection.
That can be a dangerous thing, because expectations have a way of building unreasonably. Fortunately in this case the story didn't seem to suffer from any assumptions or daydreaming on my part.
The set up is simple enough. Edddie has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse mainly by keeping his head down and thinking things through. He's relatively content (all things considered) with the home he's set up for himself and doesn't really seem to have any long term goals.
All of which gets thrown into chaos when he first rescues Jackie from a horde of zombies and then finds out about the Kingdom of Denby which it seems is about to swallow up his fortress of solitude.
And things build naturally from there. The relationship between Eddie and Jackie is an interesting one and it changes over the course of the story in some interesting ways.
The whole zombie apocalypse setting is one that's been done, re-done and then picked apart in recent years but the use here in Eddie and the Kingdom feels reasonably fresh. Perhaps because it really is just a backdrop for the characters and the zombies never become the focus of the story.
Eddie comes across as a very ordinary person. He's not a hero. He's competent and has a strong survival instinct but he has blind spots and struggles to separate his emotional reaction to things from what his brain tells him is the logical action.
The story takes a couple of twists that I didn't see coming. But not in a way that gives you whiplash. They feel natural and interesting, not surprising just for the sake of it.
But that actually leads to my frustration on getting to the end of the story. One of those twists doesn't feel like it was fully explored.
Don't get me wrong, the story is complete. The story is Eddie and the ending is a logical conclusion to the character arc he is set on at the beginning.
But.... but. There's so much potential that doesn't get touched on here. I'm not talking about some epic story of discovering what caused the zombies. I'm talking about that central relationship between Eddie and Jackie.
There's a lot of meat there left undigested. I demand a sequel.
Eddie And The Kingdom - http://amzn.to/1d2GISt