“I’d say something witty, but my tongue fell off a while ago.”
– City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore
And although the character development is superficial at best and there is no real thematic depth, it ultimately doesn’t even matter – the story is relentlessly paced and literally filled with nonstop action from the first page to the last.
When Blackmoore’s antihero – a cold-blooded hitman named Joe Sunday – is sent to kill a business partner who crossed his boss and to retrieve an invaluable stone with alleged magical powers, he gets killed himself: and awakens as a zombie. Sunday soon realizes that life as an immortal isn’t so bad – except when his flesh begins to rot and he gets the insane urge to tear innocent people limb to limb and consume their still-beating hearts.
Powered by over-the-top violence, dark humor and sequences of splaterrific gore, this novel’s tone was very much comparable to Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim saga, Simon R. Green’s Nightside (Something from the Nightside, et. al.), and Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series (Nightlife, et. al.) But the one aspect of City of the Lost that made this such a memorable reading experience for me was Blackmoore’s utterly readable, pulpy writing style. This novel was just filled with great lines:
• “I can feel things shifting, growing. Brain tissue filling out. Muscle, bone, and skin knitting back together like some crazy aunt’s nightmare afghan.”
• “She’s screaming, shrieking like Ethel Merman with her pubes on fire.”
• “I’d say something witty, but my tongue fell off a while ago.”
• “He’s got a pair of Samsonites under his eyes…”
• “I could fall into her. She’s got eyes like an angel or a devil, but I can’t tell which. I’m not sure I care.”
• “You’re a bug…and I’m going to keep squashing you until there’s nothing left.”
If City of the Lost is any indication, Stephen Blackmoore could be the illegitimate lovechild of James Ellroy and George Romero – zombie noir at its bloody best!
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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