The horror/speculative fiction genre runs in trends for some inexplicable reason. One year everyone wants to fall in love with a vampire, the next get attacked by a werewolf. Ghosts roam around only to be replaced by witches lurking around the corner. Seldom do you see all of these monsters and ghouls popular at the same time. Recently, horror aficionados have fallen head over heals for zombies, those dead humans without a mind, wandering around and attacking people, just waiting to take a bite out of you.
Enter Dayna Ingram to provide us with a taste, pun intended, for lesbian zombie hunters. Actually, the two main protagonists hardly sought this challenge. Devin, the story teller here, woke up one morning in a small town in Ohio, went to work, and suddenly the zombies arrived. This just after the A-list celebrity and ultra hot Renni Ramirez arrived at her store. Devin and Renni find themselves thrust together, trying to outrun both the zombies and a government containment that threatens to trap them in zombie land.
Ingram takes the reader on a fast paced ride in this page turner. Devin copes with a relationship problem, witnesses friends and colleagues succumb to the zombies, and grapples with her lust for Renni. At every turn they confront new danger that keeps you wondering about the direction of this novel and its characters.
There are two things that most stand out to me from reading Eat Your Heart Out. Ingram has a wonderful way with words. Not just in terms of vocabulary, but in how to use that vocabulary to propel the story and give the reader a vivid image of the transpiring events. Readers will find themselves blazing through this novel, turning the pages quickly, in part because it flows before your eyes like a movie.
Ingram also demonstrates a wry sense of humor that makes you chuckle from page one until the very end. Devin provides a quick wit, whether in her comments to the people around her or the thoughts that float through her head. Sarcasm, irony, and slap stick type humor all weave together in this addition to queer speculative fiction. I was literally laughing out loud.
Oddly, and I admit to the contradiction here, my only criticism comes with the sometimes too flippant nature of the novel. Zombies usually attract a more humorous bent for writers. Readers expect it. But they also scare you, or should. The humor so grabs hold of this novel that nothing really terrorizes the reader, or for that matter the characters themselves as they plow through this dangerous journey. Something with more teeth would have added a deeper dimension here.
Still, I hesitated to even include that criticism, because this is a good novel. Dayna Ingram is a masterful writer. Once again, Lethe Press has contributed quality fiction in the speculative genre. You’re going to love Devin. You’ll lust after Renni Ramirez, too. Hey, even I did as a gay man. Let Ingram take you on a wild zombie adventure. You’ll come to appreciate just why zombies have popped up on the popularity chart of late.
Eat Your Heart Out
By Dayna Ingram
BrazenHead/Lethe Press Paperback,9781590213339, 132pp , December 2011