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Just in case you need some additional reading for Pride Month, I’d like to present to you Deathless Divide. 

Written by Justina Ireland and published in 2020, Deathless Divide is a sequel to Dread Nation, which we reviewed earlier this year. And anyone who’s read Dread Nation was likely wild to get their hands on the sequel.

We start in Deathless Divide exactly where Dread Nation left off. Jane, Katherine and the survivors of Summerville are running for safety, a zombie hoard behind them. They find the town of Nicodemus, but the hoard is right behind them. 

Soon enough the town falls, sending Jane and Katherine on different paths.


Katherine seeks a home, after mourning her friend. She heads to California, first to San Francisco. When that doesn’t work, she heads for a town called Haven. Where Jane’s mother is rumored to be.

Jane, on the other hand, is walking a far darker path. While she’s now immune to the walking dead, she’s down an arm. And she’s burning with a desire for vengeance. Abandoning her quest to find her mother, then everyone who loves her, she lives for only one purpose. Kill Gideon Carr, the man who brought down Summerville and Nicodemus with his mad experiments. 

Overall, this was an incredible read. I continued to love the characters. Especially Ms. Preston’s girls, Jane, Katherine and Sue. (By the way, I was first introduced to this series through Sue, in a short story called Letters From Home. This was on the first episode of the podcast Nightlight. Sadly, this episode doesn’t appear to be available on their website or Spotify at this time. But if you can manage to find it, it’s a great story.)

I loved that Jane was bisexual, without that being the defining factor about her. She was also disabled, and that wasn’t even her defining factor. Her defining factor was that she was a badass zombie killer/bounty hunter with a soft spot for dogs and kids. Everything else is incidental.

I loved also that Katherine was asexual. She just didn’t give a damn about falling in love, and that wasn’t something that needed fixing about her. So often we see characters who aren’t interested in romance portrayed as broken. They were hurt in the past or grew up in an unhealthy family, so they’re just scared to love. But when they find that right person, who makes them feel safe, they can finally let down the walls of their heart and love again! 


Nope, none of that. I’ll go ahead and spoil one thing for you. Katherine doesn’t have any romantic relationships. And she is a complete, happy person without them. 

I appreciated that the villain in this story wasn’t just the undead. It never really is in the best zombie fiction. The real danger was Carr, who was in such a rush to find a vaccine that he killed hundreds all on his own. Through unethical practices and impatience, what could have been a godsend was turned into a nightmare. It’s a testament to the bloody history of medicine in America. And how even the best of intentions can still lead people to evil.

Honestly, Carr and his mad quest for a vaccine is a large reason why this series worked. And it’s written so well that we don’t even realize the lesson we’re being taught. Never once does Ireland mention the Tuskegee experiments. Maybe she wasn’t even trying to directly reference them. But they were heavy on my mind when Carr injected black individuals and then fed them to the undead for his experiments.

All of this being said, Deathless Divide wasn’t perfect.

I didn’t, honestly, like the ending. It felt rushed. Everything after the climax, at least, felt rushed. Not as bad as a Stephen King novel, but rushed. It was like the author wasn’t sure how to finish the story. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, because you should read it yourself. But for a book 551 pages long, you’d think we could get a little more of a wrap-up with our surviving cast.


But this is a small matter. My complaints are regarding the last chapter or so. And there’s a whole lot of great story before that. 

I do think the ending of Deathless Divide leaves room for a third book in the series. I don’t know if Justina Ireland plans to write a third one. But I, at least, would be more than ready to snap it up if she does.  4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

The Roots Grow Into The Earth



Launching next month The Roots Grow Into The Earth was a delightful read. It’s the premiere novel by horror author Bert S. Lechner. And after reading it, I hope it’s not his last. 

The stories

The Roots Grow Into The Earth is a collection of nine short stories and novellas, including three previously published stories. The tales are all part of one larger story. A story of darkness, and madness. A story of a creature released that should never have been. That begins then to sink its roots into the Earth and infect innocent people far and wide. 

One such example is The Wall. This is the story of a man named Sam and his wife Nat. They have a lovely normal life full of morning coffee and weekend pizza nights. Until Sam notices something on the wall of their home. While it appears to be nothing, a vision starts taking shape. With Sam’s help.


Another story that really moved me was The Orchestra. 

Let me first stay that this was not a particularly fleshed out story. We do not see The Conductor before she’s infected. We don’t see the fallout. No real picture is painted for us, it’s more like a sketch. 

In the case of The Orchestra, though, this is exactly the right choice. We don’t need to see the whole picture in gruesome technicolor to get what’s happening in this ill fated concert. We understand perhaps too well what’s occurring. And I thought that was brilliant. 

What worked

I just want to start by gushing over this storytelling style. Short story collections always have a soft spot in my heart. In the case of The Roots Grow, all of the short stories come together to create one truly dark tale. 


I also loved the clear Lovecraftian influence of this story. It’s clear that this was something that the author was going for, from interviews and social media comments. But I could tell before I saw any of that. 

The story in The Roots Grow is one of madness. But more than that, it’s one of madness and destruction that the victims could not have avoided. There was no being clever enough to avoid these dark roots that touched them. There was no being strong enough, or selfless and good enough. If the roots reach out and touch you, you’ve already lost. 

Finally, I want to extend some praise to my favorite character, Joanne. She is dealing with her own madness, her own demons. But she still finds kindness and strength to help others when they need her. Even against some truly dark odds. 

What didn’t work

All that being said, I will say that some of the short stories felt incomplete. One prime example is What Lies In The Icy Soil. This appears to be nothing more than the tale of a person possessed by the need to dig. He digs up something that for sure shouldn’t be dug up. But there’s nothing more to the story. We don’t know who this person is. We don’t know who might be missing him, or what might come of this thing he dug up. As a part of the whole story, it fits. But if we are to consider every tale by its own merit, this one doesn’t have much of anything going for it. 


That being said, this is one story in a round ten that wasn’t much of anything. The rest of the stories were wonderfully eerie, both on their own and as part of a whole. 

The Roots Grow Into The Earth comes out on October 7th. And I think it would be a perfect addition to your Halloween reading list.  4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Strange Eons Review: Cornfields and Eldritch Gods



“The elder gods arrived in the sky in early September, like an unholy aurora borealis stretching across a midnight sky. Their vastness blocked the sun, an unending eclipse, a liminal state, a breath that was inhaled but never let go. Lovecraft got it wrong, I think. It was not the sight of the gods that made humanity go mad. It’s what they destroy that hurts us. Somehow, these elder gods, these aliens, had killed time itself.” – Strange Eons by Keria Perkins

Strange Eons is a short story published in Bourbon Penn Issue 30 by Keira Perkins. Perkins, is an Indiana writer of short fiction and poetry that has also appeared in Non-Stalgia and The Heartland Society of Women Writers. Bourbon Penn is an online and print journal that specializes in speculative, odd, and surreal fiction. All issues are available to be read online for free or can be purchased as a paperback from

Strange Eons follows a young woman struggling to adjust to a life post-Lovecraftian apocalypse. This is a cozy story, the majority of which takes place as the woman lays in a cornfield and hides from well-meaning but unhelpful family members. While cozy, the piece is ominous, tackling the terror associated with pregnancy. Specifically, the terror that comes from living in a Red State and finding a significant lack of resources or options.

As a Hoosier capable of becoming pregnant, Strange Eons resonated with me. The imagery of cornfields and cicadas were very Indiana. However, so is a young woman covertly asking her sister to drive her to Illinois to receive healthcare. I loved how Perkins merged cosmic horror with the horror of receiving reproductive healthcare in Indiana but also the United States as a whole. All that was missing were predatory billboards advertising fake pregnancy centers! Talk about maddening and terrifying! Throughout the short story, the most horrific part of the young woman’s ordeal is not the eldritch gods appearing but her rather typical, hellish circumstances.

Aside from content, Strange Eons is well-written. It keeps you guessing where the story will go next. If you like a non-tropey cozy take on Lovecraftian horror or have struggled to receive reproductive healthcare, I highly recommend checking out Strange Eons! You can also check out the other stories in this issue of Bourbon Penn here. Or you can see what else Perkins is up to on her website.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Walking Practice – A Book Review



Walking Practice is Dolki Min’s debut novella about an alien named Mumu, who must learn what it is like to perform as a human. Victoria Caudle, the translator of this unique Korean story, experiments with the English language to properly convey Min’s style. This, complimented with Min’s various drawings of the story’s protagonist, creates a poetic, outlandish reading experience that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Walking Practice: Never Enough Practice

After the destruction of their home planet, Mumu crash lands their spaceship in a desolate forest far from human life. They survive by having sex with humans then, with graphic violence and great diligence, eats them.

Mumu has a strict schedule and regimen for this process; they must shapeshift their body to the specific gender and personality their date is attracted to. While this process of gender conformation is a difficult one (as the alien will often tell us), it is nowhere near as hard as the ridiculous habit humans have of walking on two legs. This is one of the many obstacles Mumu must struggle with while playing the game of life.

Dolki Min with the Korean Herald
Dolki Min in an interview with the Korean Herald

Mumu is a rich, self-aware character who seems to trust only one human: the reader. They address us directly, asking questions and indulging us with their theories on what it is to live on Earth. They are knowledgeable about the complexities of personhood, and aware that a person’s gender and sex are complex and not one-size-fits-all. After years of experience in multiple genders, the alien theorizes that humans are treated as people as soon as they have a sex and gender assigned to them. However, depending on the sex and gender, that treatment is never equal.

While Mumu performs various genders and personalities to match the sexual desires of their future prey, they do not identify as human. At the end of the day, they go home, stock their human leftovers in the fridge and freezer, and unleash their natural form. Their only priority is their own survival and pleasure (which, arguably, is their most humanlike quality).


“I’ve learned that my face arouses homicidal impulses”

Walking Practice uses horror, science fiction and satire to create a passionate queer narrative. While Mumu is a serial killer who prides themselves on their murderous skills, it is hard not to feel for them when karma strikes back and they are hurt. The poetic elements of Min’s story and Caudle’s translation support our empathy for such a vicious character

Min’s artwork, depicting Mumu’s alien forms, complements Caudle’s stylistic choices. There is enjambment in several paragraphs, (which can be interpreted as the alien either having a flair for the dramatic or genuinely pausing to find the right words), thus enhancing their internal dialogue. There are moments when the Mumu’s stream of consciousness confuses reality from imagination. They will also lose all learned human skills and revert to their mother tongue; words either run together or are spaced apart, and sometimes there are unintelligible symbols. At the surface, it looks like a linguistic nightmare. Once immersed in Mumu’s narrative, it is a work of art.

The Verdict

Walking Practice‘s balance of ambiguity and transparency keeps the reader close while also allowing an array of interpretations. It is an eccentric piece of fiction that plays with the literary status quo, resulting in an entertaining affair with an unforgettable alien. 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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