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Reaping the Benefits of Good Storytelling

By DanWeatherly, author of The New Devil

Sep 27, 2013: It’s not often you find a fresh take on a superhero mold.

Though, strictly speaking, The Zombie Knight is more of a supernatural fantasy story than a superhero story, it has enough in common to feel comfortable and familiar but enough to distinguish it so that it doesn’t feel boring and derivative.

Instead of getting bitten by a radioactive spider, The Zombie Knight’s protagonist, Hector, is saved from death by a reaper, who prolongs his life in exchange for Hector’s servitude. The servitude, though, turns out to be more of a complementary partnership. Hector, in spite of his own problems and his miserable high school existence, is thrust into a complicated (and clearly well-planned) mythology. It’s a fun and fascinating world full of interesting characters and complex alliances among heroes and villains. The writing is competent and occasionally brilliant, and in between the violence there’s plenty of humor to keep things balanced.

It’s not perfect. From time to time, a character’s decisions has struck me as totally unrealistic. Hector’s school scenes usually don’t feel quite like how high school kids actually interact (not to me, anyway). But my biggest complaint is how quickly and how massively the plot opened up. In a short time frame, Frost introduced bucketloads of new characters in new locations with new friends and new foes and it was a little overwhelming. Perhaps that was intentional—how better to help the readers sympathize with Hector’s arrival to this sprawling, intricate world of reapers than to force the readers to share his befuddling (albeit temporary) confusion? But the part of the story that hooked me was the relationship between Hector and his reaper. And even though all that macrocosmic plot juiciness is interesting and enjoyable, occasionally I find myself wishing for a few more scenes of just the basics—good ol’ Hector and Garovel. But perhaps that’s a credit to the author’s skill instead of a criticism of the story itself.

If anything, The Zombie Knight’s greatest strength is in its possibilities—the characters and the plot are good enough and open-ended enough that, based on the foundation laid so far, there’s a lot of potential for some even more impressive action to come.

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