Zakk reviews Night Things: Undead and Kicking by Terry M. West

“Ex Libris: The Eyes of Madness, Simple reviews from a simple reader…”


Zakk reviews Night Things: Undead and Kicking by Terry M. West. 233 pages published by Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.

“Edmund Wraight approached the drunk whore. She was leaning her unsteady body against a dirty wall that smelled of piss and misery. The woman’s face was hard and plain, but it was the inside of her that counted. The lamps had run dry here. This was a good place to do his business.

‘Good evening,’ he said warmly, tipping his top hat.

‘Oh, you gave me a start,’ the whore said, covering her heart.”

Synopsis:

Imagine a world just like yours with one startling difference: every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow and they now exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind! New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.

Carol Haddon is a former professional fighter living in New York City. Now a social worker, she has devoted her career and life to assisting the Night Things. She is killed after a senseless and brutal attack on her office. Carol is reanimated by the mad genius, Herbert West. West discovers that Carol carries a very unique DNA that could change things dramatically for the zombie population of the world. Johnny Stücke, the mysterious leader of the Night Things who has emerged in the media after Z Day, a citywide zombie attack a few months prior, takes Carol under his wing after her life as a mortal is stripped away. Carol’s creation has also attracted the attention of Herbert West’s greatest enemy, Edmund Wraight. An experiment of Herbert West’s gone horribly awry, Wraight is an ageless, violent, and hungry creature who was once known as the infamous Jack the Ripper. And he must stop West before the scientist unlocks the secret hidden in Carol’s blood.

“‘Becoming a Night Thing is a very difficult process and the hate and xenophobia we experience doesn’t help. At the core of every creature out there, you can find the seed of humanity. Living in a hostile and dangerous environment isn’t an easy thing to adapt to.'”

Man, was I reluctant to start reading Night Things: Undead and Kicking. After finding my way into (and falling for) the world of Terry M. West fiction, a little ditty called Heroin in the Magic Now (bundled with a short story Hardcore Crust) dropped and flipped me upside down.

I loved this book and its main character Gary Hack, a drug addicted pornographer. His path and his plight was fascinating. The book itself? Dingy, edgy, bleak, harsh. Violent and heavy, it spoke to everything I desired in a read and I connected with Gary Hack. The main character of this book that I mistakingly grasped on to be a main character of this world.

After a rebranding, Heroin became Monsters and the Magic Now and a byline was added “Prequel to Night Things”. Prequel, what?! This was just before the release of Night Things: Dracula versus Frankenstein, the official Magic Now Book 1, which I eagerly devoured.

The cold hammer of truth dropped and I discovered that my man Gary Hack was just a cog in a much larger machine. Delegated to somewhat of a background role, taking a bow to Johnny Stücke, a character introduced as Hack’s benefactor in the previous book. I was bummed about Gary’s involvement in DvF, and when he exited in a whimper… My inner superfan was spurned. No disrespect to Mr. West, I didn’t hate the book, I just had an irrational infatuation with a character who, lets be honest, probably couldn’t have held a series upon his shoulders. It took me a long time to realize this. The plight of a reader, a fan.

So, did Night Things: Undead and Kicking win me back?

Yeah, yeah it did.

The highlight of Undead and Kicking is the introduction of new characters Carol Haddon and Jack the Ripper, the hinting at other possible future characters, and the fleshing out and expansion of cast introduced in DvF, mainly Herbert West, Gary Hack’s daughter Holly, and Abraham Janvier.

It’s easy to see that Mr. West had an affinity for all monsters, modern and silver age alike. The creatures are molded by caring hands, even if they end up destroyed by bloody claws. The genuine love of Creature Features is apparent in every page.

The read itself has some exciting moments and solid build up as characters take their positions in a burgeoning war. It is by and large a build up, setting the stage for the follow up, Night Things: The Horde Frequency, which I suspect will be explosive. I’m excited to experience the aftermath.

“‘You can’t fault the fear, only the response it creates. We all have inherent prejudices. We need villains. We crave them. They are meant to allow us to face our fears. But they are often also scapegoats. We are comfortable only with the villains that we have created. The Night Things affect us on theological levels that cause distress.'”

Overall score: 4.5/ 5

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

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