Roberta Writes – Book review: Undead by Mark Brendan

What Amazon says

A collection of the author’s previously published pulp horror novellas, gathered for the first time in a single volume, Undead features three macabre tales of blood, terror and the living dead. In the first story, Exuma, a convicted seventeenth century heretic is shipwrecked along with his galley slave companions on a mysterious Caribbean island, where worse things than the surviving guards haunt the shadows. The second, The Worm at the Feast, is a darkly comedic, Gothic account of the life and misdeeds of an eighteenth century alchemist, who is also by turns a murderer, grave robber, bandit and necromancer. The final tale of historical horror, Temple of the Hyena, follows the exploits of a crew of deserters from Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in Egypt, lured into the deep desert by an ancient treasure map that promises riches beyond their dreams of avarice.

My review

I reviewed this book in my capacity as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. If you would like your book reviewed, you can contact Rosie Amber here: http://rosieamber.wordpress.com/.

This book comprises of three unique and interesting horror novellas. I must emphasis that these stories are horror and there is violence and some dramatically gruesome and bloody scenes but they were not out of context and suited the content and historical timing of the stories. Often real life historical events included in a story are far more frightening than the paranormal or supernatural elements.

The first story is set in 1666 in the harbour city of Cartagena under Spanish rule. The Spanish inquisition is in full swing and the hero of the story, De Castro, and his brother, fall victim to the Inquisitor and suffer terrible horrors in the dungeons before and after their trial. De Castro is sentenced to work as a galley slave for an indefinite period. He manages to form some strong friendships amongst his contemporaries and when they are ship wrecked, they assist each to the safety of an island. This is where the story moves away from being a historical novella to a supernatural horror story. The events that unfold are interesting and unique and I really enjoyed this tale.

The second story reminded me a little of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells as it also has a young main character with a medical background. In both stories the protagonist becomes obsessed with researching a specific scientific possibility and becomes dehumanized and wicked as a result. This story also has a strong historical basis and features an interesting 18th century medical student setting with a thread about robbing graves for cadavers for experimentation purposes. It also has an alternating Dracula’s castle type setting which makes for an interesting contrast. Again, this story took an unexpected twist when it moved into the realm of the supernatural. I found this story engaging and different.

The last story is set during Napoleon’s siege of the Ottoman city of Acre which was a turning point in the French invasion of Egypt and Syria. The main character is an army doctor, Jean-Francois, who is engaged in saving the lives of men who are being slaughtered as a result of Napoleon’s foolish military decisions. He has become disillusioned as a result. When the army retreats back to Cairo after their defeat at Acre, he discovers that his fiancé in France is terminally ill. He makes a decision to desert the army and return to his homeland. A few of his colleagues decide to accompany him and they make plans for their escape. They are distracted by a rumor of treasure in a tomb some days journey from Cairo and decide to investigate. This sets them on a path of bizarre and frightening events as they uncover the supernatural elements that underpin the rumor.

All three of these stories were well written, interesting, and unusual. I would have given this book 5 stars if it didn’t have a number of spelling and other grammatical and punctuation errors. These did not, however, overly distract me from the enthralling stories.

Purchase Undead

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19 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Book review: Undead by Mark Brendan

  1. Sorry my finger hit reply before I was done. It does sound like a good read and I like the historical setting.

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    1. Hi Denise, This book is definitely 5 stars on content. Unfortunately, spelling and punctuation errors can pull you out of the story because you stop to dwell on how a particular word makes sense in the context and it upsets the reading process

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  2. Thanks for reviewing Mark Brendan’s collection of horror stories, Robbie. I don’t usually read this genre and I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m curious. Do you think it’s becoming more popular or is it already very mainstream?

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