by Chris Pourteau, Stefan Bolz, David Bruns, Michael Bunker, Nick Cole, Jennifer Ellis, Harlow C. Fallon, Hank Garner, E.E. Giorgi, Deirdre Gould, Edward W. Robertson, Steven Savile, David Adams
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This is a collection of short stories… Tails… about what happens to the animals in the wake of an apocalyptic event. Post-Apocalypse or Inter-Apocalypse are tough times for people, but have you ever thought about what you would do with your cat in a zombie outbreak? What happens to Fluffy the bunny or Bubbles the goldfish when aliens invade? For our four-legged friends, their dependence on humans is the biggest liability they have in a cataclysm… catastrophe… dogvastation… cowlamity… OK, I’ll stop now.
Usually, I only give my own summary of what the book is about in my reviews. This time, though, I’ll let the book speak for itself as well, by quoting its own blurb. This is probably something I should have thought about doing a long time ago, but…
Anyway, here’s the book’s blurb.
The Doomsday siren calls on civilization’s last day. Natural disaster. Nuclear war. Pandemics. These are the ways the world ends.
Nobility. Self-Sacrifice. Unconditional Love. These are the qualities of the heroic animals in this collection.
The Walking Dead meets The Incredible Journey in 14 amazing tales by today’s most talented independent authors. Seven stories set in all-new dystopian landscapes. Seven stories set in the bestselling post-apocalyptic worlds of David Adams’s Symphony of War, Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania, Nick Cole’s Wasteland Saga, Hank Garner’s Weston Files, E.E. Giorgi’s Mayake Chronicles, Deirdre Gould’s After the Cure, and Edward W. Robertson’s Breakers.
When the world ends, the humans who survive will learn an old lesson anew—that friendship with animals can make the difference between a lonely death among the debris and a life well lived, with hope for the future.
The actual story-telling in most of these was quite good. The structure was choppy in a few, but mostly the ones that were done with the animal as narrator. I found them fun. Of course, we are talking about apocalypse events, so most are of a sad bent. That being said, they are also very touching. I especially love the ones where the animals illustrate their loyalty to the humans for whom they care.
The only negative I have is that it was heavily dog-centric. I like doggos, but I’m a cat person at heart, so I would have liked to see more from that angle.
Now we get to the individual story reviews. The way I reach my overall rating is to review each story (0-5 stars) and average them together for the book. That brings this one in at 3.5 stars overall, and I call it a Tail Wagging Read.
Be warned, the individual reviews probably contain spoilers:
- The Water Finder’s Shadow by David Bruns (5 star)
Only special humans can find water in a dried-out future Earth, and their worth as anything but slaves is tied to that talent. One man finds that his talent is linked to his dog, but dogs don’t live forever.
This is one of the best in the book. Warning: if you have ever watched a beloved pet grow old and fade away, this WILL bring you to tears.
- When You Open the Cages for Those Who Can’t (a Breakers short story) by Edward W. Robertson (3 stars)
A little girl who’s parents succumb to a Plague outbreak takes it upon herself to help the animals at a local shelter when the people don’t come back. She learns a harsh lesson about evil among the remnants of humanity, but true friendship in the form of her chosen furry peoples. This story shows promise for the series it is based upon, which I might need to check out.
- Protector by Stefan Bolz (3.5 star)
An act of kindness toward a wounded wolf cub in a time of desperation creates a loyalty that saves a clan. Quite a well-written story. It has good pacing and tension. Another teary eyed ending for me.
- The Poetry of Santiago by Jennifer Ellis (5 stars)
A long-lived cat adopts an antique store widower in doomed modern Pompei. The only cat-focused story of the book. It is well done, and the perspective of the cat felt almost perfect.
- Demon and Emily (a Symphony of War short story) by David Adams (3 stars)
A family flees an invasion by sentient alien bug-beings, but tragedy strikes on the way. The young daughter and her dog, Demon, end up with the army as they attempt to evacuate. This is a decent story, and I’m interested in the series because of it. I can only give it three stars though. I would like to it four stars, but the ending felt forced into a sad one when it could easily have been happy.
- Keena’s Lament (a Weston Files short story) by Hank Garner (3 stars)
An interesting take on the Flood of Noah from the perspective of a Watcher (a descendant of the fallen angels among men). He sees the building of the Ark, but doesn’t believe. He has a canine companion who witnesses the end with him. Entertaining, but I tend to frown on odd Biblical twists that contradict things.
- Tomorrow Found (a Wasteland Saga short story) by Nick Cole (4 stars)
A wanderer twenty years after the apocalypse searches for the past with the help of dog who keeps him going. Another great story in the book. Excellent glimpse of the world in a short story, with a character whose drive to complete his task has you rooting for him and his friend.
- Pet Shop (an After the Cure short story) by Deirdre Gould (4 stars)
A pet shop parrot named Surly Shirley finds friendship despite the zombie apocalypse, but her new friend might be too soft for this new world, especially considering the company he’s keeping. I liked the story, and I liked the portrayal of the parrot’s personality which is the reason I give it four stars. I do have to say that it’s only the premise that the infected can be cured that makes the human protagonist anything but a useless idiot in the zombie apocalypse. I can’t fault the storytelling at all, so four stars it is.
- Kael Takes Wing (a Mayake Chronicles short story) by E.E. Giorgi (3 stars)
A doomed falcon chick is rescued by survivors of the apocalypse and given tech upgrades and made part of the family. Although I never picked up what the apocalyptic event was, the story is fine without the info. It’s told from the perspective of the falcon, and is very interesting. Another series that might need investigating.
- The Bear’s Child by Harlow C. Fallon (2.5 stars)
A ‘feral’ human survivor of a disease apocalypse, a self-imposed outcast of her own clan, is adopted by a mama grizzly in her efforts to escape other ‘civilized’ humans who are out to exterminate all the diseased ferals. The story was decent, but it left too much unexplained.
- Wings of Paradise by Todd Bareselow (0 stars)
Quote from Paragraph 2:
“Of the seven billion people living when the world ended, only a few thousand souls survived [snip…] Within six months, most of them were gone too, victims of the plague unleashed by the Earth’s core in retribution for a century of cumulative abuse. Fracking for oil and natural gas was the undoing of man.”
No. Just No. I quit reading there. I refuse to pollute my mind with bull-crap.
NO STARS FOR YOU!
- Ghost Light by Steven Savile (4 stars)
A planeload of passengers crash-land in Scotland when the nukes fall. They hope for and soon search for a reason to go on, but they really just want to go home.
This one starts oddly. Then it continues oddly. The ending is a surprise that totally made me re-evaluate the story. It’s good, and I won’t spoil it for anyone.
- Kristy’s Song (a Pennsylvania short story) by Michael Bunker (4 stars)
A dog helps a man avoid totalitarian technocracy in a city on the Shelf of New Pennsylvania.
I didn’t realize what world this was written in when I read it, but it made sense afterward. I have read the Pennsylvania series and it is quite good. Michael Bunk is a great story teller. This one is no exception.
- Unconditional by Chris Pourteau (4 stars)
A small dog who loves a small boy and considers him to be his twin, will stop at nothing and do whatever it takes to show his love, no matter what that means in a zombie apocalypse.
Great story telling from the dog’s point of view. The ending is perfect… and shocking.