Friday, November 14, 2014

BOOK REVIEW/GUEST POST: "The Ghoul Archipelago" by Stephen Kozeniewski

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain. 
A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown. 
To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of...THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.

In The Ghoul Archipelago, we are treated to an invariable feast for the horror enthusiast from Stephen Kozeniewski.
It's not your typical zombie apocalypse story, nor does it transcend the genre like his Braineater Jones did. It takes what we know and twists it, molds it into the author's vision of a cast of unlikely characters, all involved in the zombie apocalypse: a captain, stowaway, Christian missionary and a billionaire you'll love to hate, almost like a mix of Crowley on Supernatural and Malcolm Merlyn on Arrow.
You'll be introduced to the characters first, and then learn more about the plot and how it all fits together in the end.
It's not a slow burn, however. In the first chapter you're hit with a maggoty corpse and villagers attempting murder on emissaries from said billionaire. It's not disgusting, but it's not for the faint of heart, either. Reminiscent of 1970's Stephen King horror and the descriptive nature of Bram Stoker, you can't go wrong with this novel!
I read it quickly over two days, my eyes unable to leave the page. If you don't yet know Stephen Kozeniewski, this us the book you should read to get yourself acquainted!


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Against, no doubt, her better judgment, Kelly has invited me back to her blog to talk about my sophomore novel THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, its origin, and why I wrote it.  Its real origin, I suppose, goes back many moons.

You see, back in dickety aught-uno (ed. - he means 2001) I caught the last half hour of “Night of the Living Dead” on super-late night TV and it haunted me the way only the first viewing of that movie can.  (Wow, now that I actually write that out, it sounds like the exact perfect way to become a zombie fan in every sense, doesn’t it?  Like, almost a Platonic ideal?)  So as soon as I got back to college I ordered “Dawn of the Dead” on VHS and the rest is history.  And by “history” I mean I started writing about zombies.

My first novel, BRAINEATER JONES, which Kelly has been kind enough to review here on the site already, was a bit of an anomaly. The dead in BJ can walk, talk, think, and crack wise.  Which they do.  A lot.  I’m glad I got to write something fun and different, and by most accounts everyone’s been enjoying it, but for my second foray into the world of the undead, I wanted to do something more horrifying.  More unsettling.  More…classic.

In THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, my eponymous ghouls are a very simple and straightforward folk, a Romero-fearing people.  In fact, they don’t like to stray very much from the rules as laid down in the Gospel according to George.  (However, you may notice if you look very closely that their eyes tend to tinge green for some odd reason…)

The book begins at the first moment that the dead rise.  Our heroes are then (SPOILER ALERT!) shipwrecked for about six weeks.  During those missing six weeks the dead inherit the earth and only a few very nasty outposts of human society survive.  So when our heroes finally escape the island they are sort of like Rip van Winkle sailing into a weird and frightening new future.

And who, precisely, are “our heroes?”  The intrepid captain of the good ship Rey Gould is an Afrikaner who goes by the name of Henk Martigan (although everybody just calls him “Howling Mad.”)  The third mate is a stiff, humorless European of unclear extraction called Kurtz.  The chief mechanic is an American who hails from Hannibal, MO, so everyone just calls him that.  (Rumors of a stowaway on board have been consistently denied as false by the ship’s officers…)

I suppose it’s reasonable to wonder what the future holds for our intrepid crew.  In fact, some disrespectful local wags might even suggest that THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.  But before we can resolve that Gordian knot, we must first meet our friends, 2LT Ojeda and the other mainland survivors that Captain Martigan are trying to save. 

I’m about 50,000 words into the adventure of the mainlanders, tentatively titled NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD.  I’m hoping to have it in the hands of the good people at Severed Press before the end of the year, so audiences will probably be able to get ahold of it sometime in 2015.  And this series will certainly be a trilogy at least.  (After all, you can’t stop a love story the moment the two main characters meet!)  I’m not sure if it will go past the third book but hope, like gore, springs eternal.