Fantasy Book Review: Dearly, Beloved

Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel

Can the living coexist with the living dead? That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

Nora and Bram are the zombie equivalent to Twilight’s Bella and Edward. Putting aside the “ick” factor every time they caress or kiss, this was a highly enjoyable read. I’m sorry, but there’s no way to make a rotting zombie attractive to me.

I haven’t read the first in the series (Dearly, Departed), but I had no problem jumping into the story. Though some of the minor characters’ motivations would have made a bit more sense, I’m sure. But the premise of living side-by-side thinking and reasoning zombies – as well as the prejudices– is a fascinating take on the popular genre. Blending romance, zombie horror, and alternative history – this was a unique and surprising story with plenty of adventure and suspense.

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