The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Red Hill

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Red Hill

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

Red Hill – Jamie McGuire

You guys like zombie stuff, right? Funny! Me too! This week’s read was a speedy paperback that I picked up at random from the library shelf (I love it when that happens) called Red Hill. Although not quite as action-packed as my favorite zombie flick (duh, the Dawn of the Dead remake), it was a very quick read and one I can recommend to fans of the genre.

Narrated by three people in turn, a technique that sometimes works (and more often doesn’t), Red Hill focuses on a zombie apocalypse and how it affects a small but hardy group of survivors (is there any other kind?). Our protagonists are Scarlet, a nurse and devoted single mom of two girls, Nathan, a married father of one small girl, and Miranda, a typical teenager with a beloved sister. Hey, any chance those characters may interest at some point? Ding ding ding! This is not your first time, I can tell.

Scarlet flees the hospital after the outbreak begins in spectacular fashion before page 30 – her girls are with their father and she is intent on retrieving them and hiding out at Red Hill, a ranch a few towns away that belongs to one of the doctors she works with. Scarlet knows if she can get there, she will find stockpiles of food and a place to (she hopes) hide out with her daughters while this all (she hopes) blows over.

Nathan arrives home to find his wife has left him on the same day that the zombies have arrived – bad timing indeed!  He quickly heads to school to pick up his own small daughter, Zoe and scurries off to his brother-in-law Skeeter’s house, hoping Skeeter’s love of firearms will come in handy.

High-schooler Miranda is stuck in traffic in her beloved cream-colored convertible VW beetle. With her are her long-time boyfriend Bryce, her sister Ashley, and Ashley’s boyfriend Cooper. Everybody has helpful suggestions for what Miranda should do to get out of the panicked mob fleeing the city, and suffice it to say that Miranda’s driving becomes less careful as the story progresses. Miranda and Ashley are headed for their dad’s ranch – and if you guessed that their dad is the doc who owns Red Hill, then kudos to you!

There is some highly enjoyable banter in every case, but especially with the high-schoolers. When Ashley protests that “it’s not zombies, that’s ridiculous!” Miranda counters with “The infected are attacking and biting people. They said cadavers this morning. What do you think it is, Ash?  Herpes?” LOL (as they say). When Miranda cuts across traffic to make her escape, she confides in us “I wasn’t sure how long we could survive, but I knew I wasn’t dying on day one of the fucking zombie apocalypse.” Get it, girl. That is something I really loved about this book – the characters KNOW they are in a zombie apocalypse and act as rationally as can be expected, given their pop-culture consumption of similar stories. There are even shout outs to The Walking Dead, which totally makes sense! Even peace-loving Nate grudgingly admits to himself “Now that the undead had taken over the earth, I imagined any member of the NRA was doing better than most.” These characters are self-aware, which definitely made me root for them more. And the shuffling, chewing, milky-eyed zombies were well done – plus I liked the slightly-longer gestation period on these zombies which added to the suspense. Even a pregnant zombie at one point – told you I loved the Dawn of the Dead remake, right?

There are action scenes, there is some romance (read: sex), there is self-sacrifice, parents protecting their kids, a in-depth discussion of how to refer to the zombies, etc – this really hit most of the high notes for me. Give it a try!

Hardcover Honey verdict – 4 out of 5 shambling “teds” for this one.