Return of the Loving Dead by Araminta Star Matthews and Stan Swanson
Genre: young-adult, paranormal horror
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: 8th May, 2014
Being in love with a zombie bites, but that won’t stop true love. Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead is like no zombie book you’ve ever read. Meet Amber Vanderkamp, senior at Stephen E. King High School. Amber is poised for class valedictorian when she graduates this year and has her sights set on the New York Center for the Performing Arts for college. Everything is wonderful in Amber’s world. She always gets the lead in her high school’s plays and is counting on the lead role in the school’s upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet to get a college scholarship for theater That is until her well-ordered world is thrown into chaos when her boyfriend, Zach Williams, dies and comes back as a zombie. But she simply can’t turn her back on the love of her life, can she? How does she deal with the pressure? And will she remain committed to the boy she once considered her soul mate and future husband? Especially when her mother (with secrets of her own) is encouraging her to wait and experience more of the world. And her flighty best friend, Jasmine, is acting even more peculiar ever since Zach has become a member of the undead club. Add in the class bullies, Caleb and Darla, who seem to be doing everything in their power to ruin Amber’s life and Zach’s existence, and all of the elements are present for a page-turning romp through a world where zombies, or “living impaired loved ones,” are a part of everyday life.
“This can’t be happening,” Amber said, her words muffled by a mouthful of bagel. Amber Vanderkamp’s glass of orange juice slipped through her fingers, and she barely noticed when it shattered in the ceramic sink. She stared out the window and took a startled step backward, colliding into the kitchen island behind her. Her elbow bumped a steaming mug of coffee, sloshing the liquid onto the floor. It spread across the kitchen tile like some alien blob, but Amber didn’t even glance at the mess. She cleaned her sticky hands with a nearby paper towel and gazed intently through the kitchen window into the early shadows of a gloomy Monday morning.
Amber’s mother hurried into the kitchen, frowning as she dropped a kitchen towel over the spill and pressed her shoe into it to clean up the mess “What did you break?” she asked, before she glanced into the sink at the fragments. She sighed. “I always liked that set of juice glasses.” She reached over her daughter’s head and swung open the kitchen cabinet to fetch another coffee mug. “Use a paper towel to pick up those pieces, so you don’t cut yourself.”
“Mom,” Amber said mumbled around the wad of bagel in her mouth. “You’ve got to see this.”
Amber’s mother filled her fresh mug with coffee and opened the refrigerator to search for her vanilla creamer. “It’s still dark outside, Amber. And, yes, I know you can see the space station from here this early in the morning. Your father could never get enough of the science channel.” Her voice drifted off for a moment as she said the words aloud, and then she continued speaking. “And please don’t talk with your mouth full. Did you have bad dreams again last night, hon? I thought you were finished with those now. You’ve been sleeping so peacefully the last few months.”
Amber forced down the half-chewed bagel without glancing at her mother. What the heck is out there? she wondered.
Amber still didn’t respond. It was as if the rest of the world had faded into oblivion.
Although Amber wore contacts that upgraded her eyesight to 20/20, she still found herself squinting as she gazed through the kitchen window into the backyard of her neighbor’s house.
“It’s just not possible,” she muttered.
“Dear, you keep saying that. What’s not possible?” her mother asked. She tried to press a hand to Amber’s forehead, but the high school senior deftly spun out of reach.
Her mother continued, undeterred. “Are you feeling ill? I know auditions for the role of Juliet have you stressed, but you really need to stop letting it worry you so much. You’ll do fine, honey. You always do.”
“It’s not that, Mom,” Amber said, never shifting her eyes from the window. “And I slept just fine last night. But I could have sworn I just saw someone in the Fenner’s backyard.”
Her mother finally walked over and peered out the window. “Where?”
Amber sighed. “He’s gone now.”
“Oh, well. It was probably Mr. Jones. The real estate agent was over there yesterday,” her mother offered. “Properties start to look run-down once people move out. Maybe he decided to hire a lawn service to tidy things up. Or maybe he’s showing the place to a potential buyer,” she added as an afterthought.
“It’s too dark to start mowing the lawn or whatever,” Amber mumbled. “The sun’s barely over the horizon. Besides, it sort of looked a little bit like Donnie.”
Eyebrows raised, her mother turned from the window and shuffled back to the kitchen counter. “Donnie Fenner? Now don’t let your imagination go running wild on you. You know that isn’t…well…likely. You saw him buried.” She absent-mindedly flipped through the stack of bills stamped “Overdue” sitting near the kitchen phone and sighed. “I knew you shouldn’t have gone to that funeral. And now look! You’re back to having bad dreams again.”
“Let it go, Mom. I know you didn’t want me to go, but the entire senior class was there. It would have been weird if I was the only one at home because her mommy said no. And I’m not having bad dreams!”
About the Authors:
Araminta Star Matthews is an author, educator, and instructional designer in Central Maine. Born a ginger to a pair of geek parents (one, a lover of all things Stephen King, the other a tabletop gamer and Tolkein-fan), Araminta has always been a bit of an odd duck. Her books typically feature strong, young women who are brilliant, clever, funny, and weird. Her books include Blind Hunger, Write of the Living Dead, Before Black Mask, Before Weird Tales, and The Warehouse. Her notable shorter works include “Bark of the Covenant,” in One Night Stands, “The All-Consuming Hunger of Love” in Dark Moon Digest, “Under My Skin” in Zombies Need Love, Too, and “Every Time a Bell Rings,” in Slices of Flesh. She lives in Central Maine with her miraculous dogs, Devo the whippet and Crivens the Jack-Chi, and her partner, Abner Goodwin.
Find Araminta Star Matthews Online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon
Stan Swanson is a Bram Stoker award finalist and author of eight books including Forever Zombie (a collection of short stories), Write of the Living Dead (a highly-praised writing guide written with Araminta Star Matthews and Rachel Lee) and Return of the Scream Queen (co-authored with Michael McCarty and Linnea Quigley). He is also editor/publisher for Dark Moon Books and Dark Moon Digest. Upcoming titles include Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (the first book in a young adult horror series co-written with Araminta Star Matthews), Dead Sparrows (a collection of apocalyptic poetry) and The Methlands (a horror novel co-written with award-winning author Joe McKinney).
Find Stan Swanson Online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon