Lesbians vs Zombies: Book Series Review

Hope and Crosby. Simon and Garfunkel. Ham and Pineapple. Combinations you never thought would work well together, but when they do get together, you wonder why no one had thought of them before. Or you don’t. It’s late in the evening when I’m writing this, so it sounds profound to me.

To that list maybe should be added Lesbians and Zombies. Or rather, Lesbians Vs Zombies. I must confess to a prurient fascination with both these things, and books and movies of them have occupied my shelves and my hard drive – but always separately. I wouldn’t have thought to have combined the two.

Luckily someone else did, and the good folks at Noble Romance thought the same. Thanks to author and tweeting friend of mine Ren Thompson, I became alerted to a line of novels and novellas marketed by Noble Romance under this banner.

Now, to save you unnecessary blushes later, you need to know that when you read these works, there will be erotic scenes in them; if you feel you can’t handle this, don’t read them (though I should also point out that the levels of explicitness will vary with the author, some leaning more towards sensuality than out-and-out porn, and that the mixes of horror and sex will also vary).

In case you didn’t know any better, the paranormal romance/erotica crossover has been a hot potato for the last few years, and has expanded beyond the tired vampire tropes into spirits, werewolves and shapeshifters. Two of note that I know of, THE PRIDE and SOUTHERN SPIRITS, both by Edie Bingham, were among the most popular released by Virgin/Black Lace in the UK. Now zombies have joined the fold.

I contacted with the originator of this idea, Amber Green, who explained to me the genesis of this new brand:

“I’d kept a couple of lesbian stories simmering in the back of my mind for a while, but wasn’t sure where I’d market one… I set the stories aside to wait for the market to ripen. While I was waiting, someone recited the truism (new to me) that “lesbians don’t read.”  Knocked dizzy by the sheer idiocy of that statement, I decided that I, my own modest self, could turn that truism on its head. Sometimes a gal just gets a Don Quixote moment, okay? Vampires dominate the paranormal market, with shapeshifters jostling them. Recently, the “everybody” who claims to know decided that zombies were the new up-and-coming paranormal protagonist. Two truisms.  Why not rub their noses together and watch them fight? Lesbians vs Zombies.”

The idea was eventually pitched to fellow writers in an online critique group as a fun, short-term project, called “Lesbians Vs Zombies: The Musical Revue”, and the idea was carried forward with much enthusiasm. The imagination and versatility of writers never ceases to amaze me, and when they get an idea, they can really run with it! Amber eventually brought this to the attention of Jill Noble, whose company Noble Romance often published F/F stories. Jill proved equally enthusiastic about the idea, though suggested making the stories a series of novels or novellas for greater fluid marketing opportunities.

In putting together this feature, many of the authors under this banner were generous enough to let me have a read of their works. They vary in style, tone, setting and rules about the dead, and I daresay there’s something here that could please any self-respecting zombie or lesbian fan (though given that this is being written for Anythinghorror, I want to focus on the horror/fantasy side).

Amber Green’s DEAD KITTIES DON’T PURR concerns shy college student Camie Wall, who has a major crush on fellow student Risa Ruiz, eventually managing to gain some quality time with her, though remaining mindful of the growing threats on campus. The Z-Bug had ravaged nearby Miami in the recent past, and signs of the infection spreading there increase in number. As Camie and Risa’s relationship grows, danger rises from both the rabid infected and the National Guard’s shoot-to-kill policies, and when the girls are unexpectedly separated, Camie must grow stronger if she’s to be reunited with her love. This is a fast-paced story with a realistic, vulnerable protagonist, and her plain, honest narration adds potency to both the erotic and the horrific scenes.

J.S. Wayne’s DEAD MEANS DEAD features student/actress Louise, wound up by an a*****e director and a pair of shoes several sizes too small for her. But her life seems to make a turn for the better with the arrival of new stagehand Angie, a girl who seems to reciprocate the same hot and heavy attraction that she has for her. But just as they manage to get away for a little backstage f**k, the a*****e director bursts in on them, attacking them. Then dies. Then comes back to attack them again. And Louise, Angie, and other survivors find their campus quarantined from the outside world by the authorities, and end up fending for themselves… this is another fast-paced story, with Louise and Angie a team with great chemistry together. There is some cracking dialogue with morbid humour, and Wayne doesn’t skimp on the violence and gore.

Ellie Heller’s GINNY’S CAPTURE takes a different path from the first two novellas, presenting a world where supernatural creatures such as werewolves and faeries secretly mix with the modern world, and zombies are already all over the place, but in fact get used by crime families as undead muscle.  Deirdra Montague is a magic-using zombie-killing agent from the Fae Council who finds herself unwillingly reunited with mortal student and former lover Guinevere (who never knew of Deirdra’s magical heritage), when Guinevere’s college gets infected with the zombie virus. I found Ellie Heller’s world more difficult to get into than the others, possibly because I felt it needed more of an explanation of what was happening and how her world worked, but I can’t fault some of the novel touches she put in the story, such as the government orders to broadcast easy-listening music with zombie-repelling subliminals on loudspeakers, the dead preferring the hard rock beat!

Jadette Paige’s NETHER REGIONS will certainly please fans of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, and on some of the several same levels as that show. Set in Ye Ancient Times, the Amazon warrior Threseo and her young apprentice Kreousa are away from their city for a little, shall we say, hand-to-hand training. They return to find the residents frozen like statues, the work of spiteful Gods who want a rematch between the greatest of the Amazons and their old foes the Spartans, whose asses got handed to them by the Amazons. That the Spartans are dead is hardly a problem for the Gods, though…  NETHER REGIONS is another novel novella, and little time is wasted in getting the reader into the story. Jadette’s description of Hades and the dead are also quite creepy, due to their supernatural nature rather than the usual viral origins.

KevaD’s THE ZOMBIE WITH FLOWERS IN HER HAIR was among the most striking and original of the stories sent to me. Set in 1969, our heroine is newly-dead Isis, coping with an existence of rotting flesh and maggots, while trying to find the zombie girl who brought her to this state, the zombie girl she has fallen madly in lust with, before her own body decays away. Here in this world, the zombies are not like the square uptight revenants; they’re intelligent, talkative, into peace and love, man, and won’t just attack “Lifers” for a quick bite. Isis is an engaging character, at times selfish and rough, but then selfless and even self-sacrificing, and as we meet a host of other characters during her journey, we’re treated to many amusing bits of 60s pop culture references and dialogue.

And D.Dye’s ZAPOCALYPSE-THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is a sultry American Gothic nightmare where girlfriends Ginger and Gina find themselves stuck in a one-horse Southern town serving beer-swilling inbred rednecks in the local diner while rocking to Credence Clearwater Revival and teasing their neighbours. But when something at the local plant kills the locals and starts bringing them back, hungry for flesh, the diner becomes a fortress. It’s filled with lots of sharp dialogue and references to horror movies both good and bad – how many stories will reference POULTRYGEIST?

Of the stories I’ve read, I’ve only had two complaints: one, that most skimped out on scenes of gore and mayhem, and two, that more than a couple deserved to be expanded into novel length.

So, if you like your women who love women and zombies who love brains, you can see and purchase all the works under the Lesbians Vs Zombies banner at the Noble Romance site here.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Author:  Various

Plot:  3 out of 5 stars (averaged)

Gore:  2 out of 10 skulls (averaged)

Zombie Mayhem:  3 out of 5 brains (averaged)

Reviewed by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien

Stay Bloody!!!

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26 Responses to Lesbians vs Zombies: Book Series Review

  1. Pingback:J.S. Wayne is Writing Out Child Abuse « Sarah Ballance

  2. Pingback:LESBIANS VS ZOMBIES – a series review | Lesbians vs Zombies from Noble Romance

  3. D. Dye says:

    Whoops-Ignore the 2nd comment. Didn’t see it post and thought I’d found the black hole again.

    “)

  4. D. Dye says:

    Wow, how awesome to wake up to this. Thank you SOOO much for reviewing our series. Yes, as you guessed I love horror movies. From growing up and catching classics such as Vincent Price movies (House of Wax-etc) and on into the less known B flicks such as The Boogens and Poultrygeist.

    A bit older came along John Saul, When the Wind Blows and cult classics such as the Evil Dead. Though the whole hand scene in ED 2 was hilarious!!! (so love Bruce Campbell)

    Thank you again and have a great weekend!

    D. Dye

  5. Great review on this series, very thorough! I know just how hard each of these authors worked on their stories and the ones I’ve read so far are smoking, smoking hot. Take a zombie story and turn it into something you have to put down half way through to find your own relief…that takes talent.

    Many thanks for taking so much time out of your day for each of these works and presenting them with honest feedback.

    • The pleasure was all mine, it was quite a treat to discover these stories and these storytellers. It’s one of the reasons I started writing reviews for Scott’s site…

  6. margiechurch says:

    there are other books in this series that are really good, too!

  7. margiechurch says:

    there are other books in the series that I enjoyed as well.

    • I quite agree – I just finished reading KB Cutter’s UNDEAD REFLECTIONS, a supercool story with a female biker gang against the living dead, and I’m sorry I hadn’t included it in the main article, as it’s a well-written, well-plotted tale I could see being made into a movie…

      • margiechurch says:

        Undead reminded me of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I loved the girl power in that book. I also really enjoyed KevaD’s book. Nice comedic touch with a very interesting message.

      • Thank you for the kind words, Derek. Woulda been sweet to have it listed with the others, c’est lavie. Undead was a lot of fun to write and being an uber horror fan, would LOVE to have this made into a film or adapted for a graphic novel.

  8. D. Dye says:

    What a surprise to wake up to this! Thank you very much for reviewing our series. I’m quite the enthusiast of horror movies, good and bad as you guessed. (Poultrygiest-LOL)

    From growing up and catching the old classic Vincent Price movies (House of Wax-etc) to The Boogens straight into novels like When the Wind Blows.(John Saul)

    Love em all!

    Have a great weekend!

    🙂

    D. Dye

  9. Amber Green says:

    The horror-heavy ones are coming, Derek.

  10. KevaD says:

    I’m a little late for the party due to continuing techincal difficulties this week, but I wanted to add my sincere thanks and appreciation for the reviews as well.

    To alienredqueen:
    “…cheesy porn flick a la zombies…” – in The Zombie with Flowers in Her Hair?
    It’s a comedy without any active sex, so forgive me, but I’m still scratching my head over that statement.

  11. hellesbelles says:

    Loved Zapocalypse, it was sharp, funny and hot and I’m not even a lesbian. Just good writing, horror, and likeable characters. I do agree it could have been longer, though, because Ginger and Gina were the best. I did love the way it ended though, the armadillo, the possibility of who knows what coming next!

  12. Thanks, Deggsy! I, no, we all thank you so much for taking the time to read and give a review of these works. You’re awesome!

  13. Ellie Heller says:

    Thank you for posting this! Nice to see someone read the array of stories and get the variety of styles used. We sure had fun writing them and pushing our boundaries to explore new areas.

    • And thank you for opportunity, Ellie – I enjoyed the wide range of settings, styles, tones and all the other individual details everyone put into their work 🙂

  14. Ren says:

    Deggs, thanks so much for posting this.

  15. I agree wholeheartedly that it is no easy feat to get recognized and published, especially in this age of electronic submissions (darn them, darn them to heck!) However, I wouldn’t base a series’ merits on the fact that the publishers took a risk on it; I mean, look at Twilight. Apparently something doesn’t have to be well written at all to be commercially successful.

    • And something doesn’t have to be commercially successful to be well written. Like I said, some of the above entries in this series are more successful in their own right than others, and I wouldn’t want people to just dismiss it as a whole because they may judge it from the premise alone…

  16. Wow. I guess if you just take it for what it is, your basic quasi-erotic romance novel, with zombies thrown in for marketability, it’s something else people will buy. Maybe out of (morbid) curiosity.

    On the other hand, it’s also really dumb. I mean, it’s basically your cheesy porn flick a la zombie, only in book form. In a way, the fact that it’s marketed as a “Lesbians Vs. Zombies” seems pretty sleazy. Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see a zombie novel/film with a strong female lead who just happens to be a lesbian… but this seems kind of like just cheap exploitation, something to get the boys pulling books off the shelves. (like you said, even you have a ‘fascination’ with lesbians.)

    But, like I said, if you just take it for what it is, well, it’s kind of funny.

    • Alienredqueen, perhaps I shouldn’t have joked as much about my “fascination” in this article, as it might be seen to be diminishing the efforts of these writers, something I certainly wouldn’t want to do. I applaud anyone who can finish a novel or novella and get it out there, even if it’s something that isn’t to my tastes.
      The notion that the zombies are just thrown in for marketability or exploitation is unfair to the writers here, who are merely following in the footsteps of those writers who wrote the first erotic stories involving vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc (many of whom might have faced incredulity from others about the viability of their subject matter). And while the mixture of the supernatural with the erotic is more successful with some than with others in this series, as with any series, I can’t ignore the fact that the publishers have taken the risk to start this in the first place, so there must be something worthwhile behind the concept.