Cinderella meets zombies. There’s your synopsis in three words. But for the most part, it’s a lot more than that.
Exley doesn’t just stick zombies in your stereotypical Cinderella story. She explains what the characters know about how the zombies (or vermin, or turned) came to be. The story takes place in England during the aftermath of World War I. While the shell shocked men are coming home from war, a devastating bout of ‘influenza’ sweeps the country, killing millions. Only they don’t stay dead. They return, intent on feeding on their living countrymen. With the men either dead or incapacitated by war, many tasks fell to women. And the hardest task fell to Ella.
The world building here is fairly interesting. The explanation of why Ella is lopping of heads of the undead makes sense, especially considering the time period and location. The setting is actually pretty good, as Exley considers the changing time periods and how modern conveniences were still fairly new to the countryside. The reactions of the characters are pretty good, even though the author takes some liberties with how they characters got to where they were. And ok, the romance aspect is a bit trite, but we weren’t really expecting much on that front, were we?
I like fairy tales, and ones with twists, so when this popped up, I thought, “Why not?” I mean, a great work of literature this is not, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. And I was feeling it for most of the book. Until the end. The end killed it for me. And I understand how the author was setting up for a series, but she made the main character, who had been pretty awesome up until this point, look like an idiot. I won’t spoil it for you, but girl made an impressively stupid move. So while I’m mildly interested in what happens in the series, Exley let me down in the end.