Justice Kinkead doesn’t know how the zombie plague started, but he doesn’t have much time to worry about it. He’s too busy trying to maintain a measure of law and order in the midst of post-apocalyptic chaos. His partners on the force keep dying, so when he is reluctantly paired with Merlin Pride, he doesn’t hold out hope for their relationship lasting beyond the afternoon.
Merlin has no experience in law enforcement, but quickly proves he is more than capable of defending himself. He and Justice investigate how the zombie tragedy began and Merlin wonders if magic could be involved. If he’s right, he and Justice may be dealing with something very dark indeed. While the world crumbles around them, Justice and Merlin must keep from killing one another long enough to hunt down and confront the real enemy.
I wanted to enjoy Pride and Justice. Any book that has zombies, magic, and mythology should hit all my happy little nerd buttons. But nearly everything in Pride and Justice fell short of my expectations.
Let me start by giving the author credit for creating a unique origin event for the zombie apocalypse. Zombie fiction is all the rage these days, but many authors never explain how their respective undead infestations begin. Nacht gives the readers an unusual and original cause for the world’s zombification. Had this devastating event not been the result of ridiculous character actions, the plot might have had real potential. Instead the storyline felt rushed and lacking structure and the characters were rarely relatable. We aren’t told much about Justice save that he is police officer and his ex lover is now a zombie. His eventual defense of the zombies and his attachment to Merlin are commendable, but I failed to connect with him and never felt that I fully understood him. Merlin is intriguing and we are given a bit more information about his background and his magical potential, but his personality isn’t fully defined either. Both he and Justice seem flat and lack depth. They are rough sketches rather than completed portraits. When they snipe with one another it feels forced and even their attraction never dips far below superficial. The less said about the “bad guys” the better. In the end their actions are illogical and less evil than the product of blatant stupidity.
Additionally, the plot often moves too quickly, leaping from one situation to the next, without giving much concern to the passage of time. This left events jumbled together and transitions were jarring. The novel is crammed to the brim with jokes that aren’t funny and the humor is so awfully bad it often yanks the reader out of the action. One of the biggest examples of this can be seen in the character names. Naming a cop Justice and a wizard Merlin is a little too on the nose, but I can deal with that. What I can’t deal with are the names of other characters, like Gay Pride and Prodigious Bottom. These weak attempts at humor play as absurd rather than funny and never feel like a natural part the narrative.
Pride and Justice had possibility and, while there are intriguing elements, the plot never quite comes together and the characters lack substance. Unless you’re just crazy for zombies, I’d probably give this one a pass.