Creature Comfort is a spin-off from Queens of the Apocalypse, which I have not read. But, I will admit to being hooked by the cover, which is why I picked this book for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week. I kind of dug the slender man-legs in high heels, with a disco ball dropped between. It made me curious about how drag would play into the story—and the tag line “Do you believe in love after life?” made me ponder the juxtaposition.
But, I digress.
This post-apocalyptic mystery/love story is set 300 years into the future, with a zombie drag queen as the main character. Creature Comfort “survived” the solar flares that rendered the vast majority of humanity immortal zombies by regular ingestion of salt. She’s still a zombie, but she’s sentient—and sassy. Creature found a Brittney-loving zombie lingering outside the fences that enclose her and her human minions in the salt factory, and was moved to share the salt-cure with Dara Licked, her eternal soulmate.
Creature’s act for the zombie hordes mesmerizes them, thus protecting the humans when they make scavenging trips into Salt Lake City for the meager supplies that remain. It’s with some human concern, then, when a small plane lands at the salt factory and three human drag queens beg Creature to return with them to Liberty Island (New Jersey) to help stop the brutal zombie attacks that have been occurring in their small, isolated, population of humans.
Creature agrees to go on the condition that she be returned to her Utah domain, and that Dara tag along. Dara and Creature are stunned by the sheer luxury of this Drag Queen utopia. It’s shiny on the surface, but Creature immediately notices some inconsistencies. Not everyone on Liberty Island is telling the truth about the founding of their conclave. It takes some forays into NYC for supplies to learn that the zombie population in New York is somewhat sentient—but who controls them? Creature has some sway over the multitude, but she and Dara go undercover to figure out the structure of control. Little did she dream that she might be reunited with one of the original Queens of the Apocalypse—now gone rather psycho.
Creature helps reunite long-lost (zombie) loves—and that was sweet. The whole making of a sentient zombie is a bit silly, and you need to take all the sciencey-bits with a pound of salt. In all, it’s a fun romp, but for me, it stretched a bit too long. The constant unfinished-ness of the charge against the bad guys morphed from action into saga, and I found it tiring. The pace felt slow for the first half, and then fast but with twisty-plot-redundancy issues toward the end. I thought they had saved the day, only to have some arcane twist bring the bad guys back into battle, at least twice. While I loved how devoted Creature and Dara are, I even tired of their constant affirmations of their love. There are plenty of snicker-worthy puns, and a creative story idea that ultimately got lost within plot convolutions that hindered my enjoyment.
In terms of the cover, I think there are several Easter Eggs hidden in the art that come into play for the story. Partly that’s conversion of mindless zombies into sentient drag zombies, as well as the role disco played in the lives of Creature and her contemporaries. For me, the cover really suited the book and I liked that my initial musings were addressed in the actual story. I don’t think reading Queens of the Apocalypse is required, as Creature tells her story in plenty of gory detail; I never felt that there were missing details.
If you are looking for a different take on zombies, this is a nice departure. There are some sexy/sensual times for Creature and Dara, which is chock full of tongue-in-cheek humor, as is the entire book. I liked the book fine, but would have liked it better without the multiple climaxes. (When has a romance reader EVER said that!) Double entendre aside, I feel like the book could have ended with the first enemy destruction scene and I would have been entirely satisfied. More was not better, for me.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for Judge a Book By Its Cover Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of two sets of 3 audiobooks (or ebooks if preferred) from Riptide Publishing! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on Judge a Book By Its Cover Week here.