Terry M. West tells twisted stories well. His “Night Things Undead and Kicking” is no exception.
In it, Carol, a social worker advocating for the rights of the undead, died and found herself reanimated after a brutal attack on her place of employment, the Children of the Moon Shelter. Dr. Herbert West achieved his greatest success with Carol, whose DNA may hold the secret to controlling zombie herds and overriding the “horde frequency” that inspires bloodlust in the zombies.
Johnny Stucke, self-appointed leader of the Night Things takes Carol under his protection, but his interests may have a sinister purpose. Also, an ancient being going by the name of Edmund Wraight proves ready to explore Carol’s insides to claim her power as his own.
Terry M. West includes nods to greats of literary horror including Lovecraft, Shelley, and Stoker. He reshapes familiar monsters and fleshes them out to suit his “Magic Now” world, a modern world where creatures of myth and nightmare coexist with humans. The undead navigate social dilemmas, civil rights violations, and less-than-human standing.
Enthusiasts of classic horror will recognize a kindred spirit in Terry M. West. Though many are renamed and “modernized,” the horror icons make themselves known through West’s creative interpretation. He introduces new characters, too, and gives them motivations and believability.
“Undead and Kicking” is an installment in the “Magic Now” series, which includes “Dracula versus Frankenstein” and West’s decidedly grittier prequel, “Monsters and the Magic Now,” but this newest novel stands on its own. With the back story established in the earlier books of the series, “Undead and Kicking” uses straight-forward writing, interesting characters, and flashbacks to provide a quick and enjoyable read.