Read This: Blackened Roots: An Anthology of the Undead

Blackened Roots

Blackened Roots: An Anthology Of The Undead, edited by Nicole Givens Kurtz And Tonia Ransom, is a fascinating zombie anthology that blends modern and historic traditions of the living dead to great effect and ignores the Romero version of the end of the world as often as it embraces it. In Blackened Roots’ ten stories, zombies are not limited by their state of unbeing. The creatures found here are victims, pawns, mindless husks, monsters, avengers, and assured masters of their own fates–sometimes all in the same story. There is grim realism. There is bizarre transformation. There is even a smear of black humor, here and there. 


Blackened Roots“Recipe for a Zombie” by Eden Royce blends history, instructions, and helpful tips into a surprisingly effective piece.

“Initiation” by Milton J. Davis gives us the limits of science after the apocalypse, and the things we do for love.

“Cecil and the Dismemberment” by Errick Nunnally is a weird and disorienting unravelling of what it is to exist. One of my favorites.

“Grayed Out” by Craig L. Gidney uses the dehumanizing ugliness of yet another drug epidemic to show the real implications of turning people into zombies.

“The Reckoning” by Brandon Massey presents the completely true story of well-deserved vengeance served from the freedom beyond the grave.

“Inheritance” by L. Marie Wood pits brother against sister in a short, brutal tale of duelling resurrection spells.

“Dead Man Country” by Steven Van Patten creates a sprawling world of vampires, werewolves, reality television, evangelism, and a barely-controlled living dead musician. Another favorite.

“From Within the Hull” by Marc Abbott takes place on the high seas, pitting the undead champions of ancient gods against ruthless slavers.

“A Confusion of the Gods” by Sumiko Saulson is a playful tale of a zombie apocalypse brought on by a gaggle of cranky gods and divine sibling rivalry. Another favorite.

“Sirabiri of the Restless” by Moustapha Mbacké Diop uses a mother’s need to save her child as an opening for a goddess of death to rise against colonial powers.  


Reaching back into folklore, myth, and urban legend, Blackened Roots explores what it means to make, to battle, or to be a zombie. At turns wildly graphic and disarmingly subtle, the stories create a fine balance of themes and tones that make this anthology as thoughtful as it is frightening. I recommend it.