Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link: Amazon
The year is 1907, 20 years after the outbreak of the zombie plague. In England, most of the citizens have fled to London and live behind walls that keep the zombies confined to the countryside. While most people are content to hide away from the zombies in the cities, there are others who call for war instead. Clint is a young surgical student who works in a lab studying the zombies. One night he comes across a stranger in the lab. A man he assumes is the new assistant of one of the professors, until he discovers the man is actually up to something quite devious. Although Clint’s first instinct is to have nothing to do with this man who seems to be nothing but trouble, he quickly gets caught up in the plan, falling for the unusual stranger in the process.
Off With Their Heads is a story set in the world of the authors’ Gentlemen’s Tales of Love, Lust, and the Undead (along with Scavengers, though the books are only loosely linked by a shared world). This story focuses on one night when young Clint’s life changes forever. He goes from being a quiet, shy, rule following guy, to someone who jumps into the chaos that Xavier brings to his life. Partly, he admits, it is due to his attraction to Xavier. But it is also that Clint is impressed by Xavier’s strength of belief and dedication to his cause. And both these lures are enough to take Clint out of his normal life and into something much more wild and exciting. I often enjoy the more shy, inexperienced hero, and I found Clint very appealing as he bumbles his way through his first real sexual encounter and steps out of his usual element. He and Xavier are sweet together and I liked the idea of this good boy getting mixed up with the rebel. The story takes place pretty much all in one night, however, so there is very little time for much to develop here. The guys have a couple of sexual encounters, bond through a dangerous experience, and not much more.
I also think we really need more development on the political side of things. Having read the Scavengers, I had a sense of the world-building and so I think that gave me some good context for what was going on here. In this book, however, we get only the barest of details here about the zombie outbreak and how it is being handled. Which would probably be fine if not for the fact that Xavier is engaged in a rebellion against the political situation, so we really need to get why this all matters. This just didn’t feel developed enough for me to really get what he is so fired up about, or to make me feel like I should be on Xavier’s side. And even worse, the whole thing ends rather abruptly (one of those times where you turn to the page only to be shocked you are at the end). So we never really get any sense of what the future holds for these guys or what they are planning from here.
I think if you are a fan of the other books in this series (or collection may be a better word), then this story may work better for you. With more of an understanding of the issues facing these people and the politics at hand, there may have been more urgency here. And I enjoyed Clint and Xavier together and found them sweet and an interesting. I just need more here to really flesh out this story and get me fully engaged.
Cover Review: This is an interesting one isn’t it? I am not so sure how I feel about it. I love that it is totally unusual and that it completely depicts Xavier perfectly, right down to his tattoos and dyed hair, holding his severed zombie heads. But maybe just a little bit too weird and gory? I don’t know, what do you all think?