I had the immeasurable pleasure of meeting Roberto Calas at Anomaly Con back in March. I spent most of the weekend at the table next to his, and, I must say that chatting with Roberto was truly a highlight of the con.
Were it not for this experience, I likely would have never given his book, The Scourge, a glance or a thought, and certainly not a read. Why? Because it represents a cross-section of two genres that tend to simply not interest me: zombies and alternate history.
Here’s the thing, though: This book was fantastic.
When I started the read, I’d figured, hey – this guy was pretty awesome, the least I can do is trudge dutifully through his novel.
Little did I know there would be no trudging required.
The book follows three knights – one devoutly religious, one sarcastically skeptical, and the third (also the narrator), somewhere in between. The knights are distinct and complete characters who drive the story forward with believable decisions (good and bad) as they encounter the living and the undead on their journey.
And then there’s the research. I’m just going to say that some obscene amount of research went into crafting these characters, this setting, and even the source of the “plague” that has infected England. I was immersed in Calas’ England. His adaptation of historical England into an England infested with the undead was nearly seamless.
Most importantly, the characters were quirky and engaging, the story was interesting, and I didn’t want to put it down.