There’s something strange in the neighbourhood… well seaside resort Smuggler’s Bay, an idyllic holiday retreat for families. People are getting sick, and now people are going missing and the police are stretched as it as they expect their busiest weekend of the year, all the while, a super summer storm hovers on the horizon. The last thing they need is zombies. Well tough shit, they’re getting them.
Cardillo sets his story up well, the locale, introducing a multitude of interesting characters, and setting them up for their fateful falls, but perhaps spends too long on scene building when the simpler approach would have done. This isn’t the Great American Novel, most of these townsfolk are going to meet horrible ends, and thus nearly two hundred pages are spent going through the motions, trials and tribulations of the citizens of Smuggler’s Bay. The inclusion of the approaching storm is an interesting device, though unfortunately it isn’t used to great effect as much as I hoped. The way the story built, I expect things to go Jurassic Park and for the town to be overrun, instead it serves as a interested, though short finale. Had a good portion of the story concentrated on the storm itself instead of talk of it, my interest might have been held more (zombienado anyone?)
Saying that, the slow burn of the dead as they creep forward in the plot is good, and Cardillo writes the horror of their transformation quite well, it’s just a shame in parts it gets bogged down in soap opera shenanigans of the characters that are going to die anyways. There’s a lot to like; there’s a wry small town humour and the diverse characters are likeable and real enough, and that’s where the strengths are, but it just feels that there’s some missed opportunities (zombies during the storm could have been more prominent, the inclusion of zombie clowns could have been an equally terrifying horror had they been utilised more.)
Hits and misses aside, if you like a slow burn, small town horror The Creeping Dead might be worth a visit.