Book Review: “Twenty Years Dead” by Richard Farren Barber

twenty years deadHello Addicts,

What if we lived in a world where the dead remain in their grave for a limited amount of time before coming back? That is the basis of many zombie and reanimated dead stories. Usually, there is no reason given or really needed in most cases. It just happens. In those stories, the way to return them to eternal rest is by injuring the body in some fashion. Richard Farren Barber looks at the reanimated dead, and how they behave, differently in “Twenty Years Dead”.

The dead behave differently in David Chadwick’s world. They get buried after they die, but, rather than stay in their grave for eternity, their spirit is returns to the body exactly twenty years after their final breath. The corpses are in a panic, a little crazy, and quick to lash out after emerging from the ground. While they are not driven by a need for blood and brains, they need a reminder of who they were and to be calmed so their spirit can move on. This process can be dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or unprepared, so a new profession is born — Family Directors. They take care of the dead on behalf of the families for a fee, and most are good at what they do.

David, however, falls into a different category. He is one who feels they can take care of the crossing over by themselves. They watch YouTube videos, read all that they can about the procedure, and purchase all the recommended tools. They choose to do it themselves more out of cost and feeling an obligation to take care of their own, even in death.

For David, there is a more personal reason for being at his father’s gravesite when he rises. He was only five when his dad died, and his mother has done everything possible since to erase him from their home and their lives. The more she tells him to leave it alone, however, the more he thinks she is hiding something. He knows he only gets one opportunity to ask his father what happened to him, so he settles in to wait for the rising.

His girlfriend, Helen, joins him despite thinking he should let the professionals handle the rising. During the night, they assist a Family Director with a rising, which is admittedly more chaotic than either expected. They have second thoughts about what they are doing after one of the risen kills a lesser experienced Director. David is ill prepared when his father finally rises, and memories that rise with the dead man.

This was a well-done story that offered a different take on the reanimated dead. Rather than being mindless zombies guided by their base desires of eating and spreading their disease, there is a more practical and spiritual approach to the story. I enjoyed the slow build and how David changed from being so sure of what he was doing because he saw it online, to uncertainty, and finally realizing how over his head he really was. The ending was more of a surprise than I expected and felt appropriate. I recommend curling up with this book on an overcast night with a cup of hot tea handy.

You can find “Twenty Years Dead” at Crystal Lake Publishing, Amazon, Bookshop, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore. 

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

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