Book Review: Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies, by Victoria Dunn

 

First, a little backstory: I’m wandering through Ottawa ComicCon and I see a booth with a) zombie fic, b) a free offer to zombify one’s face, and c) crocheted Doctor Who dolls. So of course I have to stop and chat! The team at the booth, including the authors who are the combined authoring awesomeness of Victoria Dunn, were very sweet and genuine, and although I didn’t buy the book right away (partly due to a raging con headache) I eventuallly returned to the booth the next day to not only get zombified on a pin (I now carry it on my purse)  

 

and buy the 1st Doctor in crocheted glory,  

 

but also pick up an autographed (and personalized) copy of the book for myself.  

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Such the power of the personal touch at a convention, folks — reach out and you will get a response!

It did take me a while to get to reading the book, though, between one thing and another. But a week or two ago, I decided to make Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies my first summer read, and I’m so very glad I did. Especially before my daughter decided to use my copy as a hard surface for drawing with sharpies . . . grrr. I like my books pristine, people!!!!

Dunn’s comedic take on the zombie genre is snarky, self-reflective, delicious fun. The characters are original — I adored Alice, the former telephone psychic in charge of assisting and protecting the tall and handsome paranormal-investigator-with-magical/biological-enhancements, Welly. They work for Odyssey International, a secret organization that combines the magic of Harry Potter with Time Lord technology and the devices of the CIA/FBI/NSA/Hammas to detect risks to humanity and restore or maintain the balance. Alice is still trying to work out her place in the organization, and her relationship with her partner, and her flashbacks and recollections of her recruitment (something about being rescued from certain death at Niagara Falls and signing her life away) and her early days in Odyssey are so funny, I definitely need to know more about her backstory. (Ahem another book please, soon, Ms. Dunn?)

But Alice and Welly aren’t the only characters that make this story such a delightful romp: Ken, the pro-zombie head of Odyssey’s mailroom, stalwartly defends his friend Dave (his heterosexual life partner and nose-enhanced zombie) as a help in investigating zombie outbreaks. Sadly, Dave doesn’t always prove to be as helpful as Ken would hope . . . And then, rounding off the group charged with halting a zombie outbreak at the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales is the expert in magical science, Mick. I ❤ Mick. Mick is awesome. Mick is outrageous. Mick loves excitement and intrigue, fashion and fame . . . I seriously need a Mick action figure. He needs a music video. He’s that amazing.

Oh — they’ve got one! Well, strictly speaking, Victoria Dunn has a book trailer, but it is PERFECT for this book. In fact, I am jealous of it in all ways. Take a look!

And look at their website, too! It’s AWESOME!

Honestly, I love the whole concept of turning a book into a more interactive experience like this. And the way they’ve done it completely suits the genre and story of this novel.

But back to the story specifically — again, it’s original and it’s fun. If you’re a fan of Chuck (Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, that Baldwin guy), or the Evil Dead series (more <3s for Bruce Campbell!), then this book is definitely one that you need to add to your reading list today. I devoured it in four hours, honestly. Dunn has a terrific talent for throwing wrenches into what should have been a fairly standard mission. There are plot twists and turns that had me thoroughly engaged over and over again.

Refreshing and witty, this novel has fantastic comic timing and I highly recommend it.

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Fandoms and Artists and Writers, oh my!

A couple of shout-outs to some awesome people I’ve recently met through my love for fandoms:

  • A number of weeks ago, I bought earrings from Nerdy But Still Girly, and when my purchases came, I was bowled over by the thoughtfulness of the packaging itself — personalized box, tasty bunny sucker candy, and each set of handmade earrings individually packaged in sweet little bags. I wore the custom-ordered Outlander earrings she made for me on Sunday at ComicCon. Definitely ordering more awesome earrings from her in the future!
  • Montreal Wolverine and his team of X-Men cosplayers were fantastic at Ottawa ComicCon, raising money for Breast Cancer Research (Claws for Bras!). I was so impressed not only by his dedication to the cause and the part he was playing, but also his creativity with improvising tableaux. He’s on Facebook — check him out! (And my face on the bike, ha ha…)DSC_0653
  • Victoria Dunne and her crew behind the book                                Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies — I got my face zombified on a pin at their booth, bought a signed and personalized copy of the book from them, and got to take home a handmade crocheted 1st Doctor. Plus, we chatted about writing and publishers, and they gave me a great tip on who to approach with my snowmobiling novel for reluctant readers!

And these are just a few of the fantastic people I met. If I get time tomorrow, I’ll post a pic of the lovely steampunk necklace I bought, and information about the artisan, along with highlights from ComicCon. I firmly believe that kindness and generosity and being genuine are essential parts of the successful small business or fundraising enterprise, and these individuals are all excellent examples of how to accomplish those things. When you love your fans and appreciate them — we know it.