From award-winning author Daryl Gregory, whom Library Journal called “[a] bright new voice of the twenty-first century,” comes a new breed of zombie novel—a surprisingly funny, vividly frightening, and ultimately deeply moving story of self-discovery and family love.
In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.
The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world.
Richly textured settings and nuanced characters mark this introspective novel, in which Gregory (The Devil's Alphabet) further expounds on his fascination with an altered human condition set against a mundane backdrop. In 1968 Iowa, at the height of the epidemic of the living dead (LDs) that are beaten back only with mass killings of the afflicted, Wanda Mayhall finds and cares for a baby LD who inexplicably grows and ages, despite his dead, unhealing flesh. Stony spends his childhood hidden away, voraciously reading; his adolescence organizing with fellow LDs; and his adulthood in government incarceration, finally breaking out. Stony's curiosity about his own condition and unique origins lead him to study the LDs, resulting in some startling insights about the nature of the disease and the nature of humanity. Like many survivors of terrible trauma, Stony hides his pain behind cynicism and brutal matter-of-factness: "One morning his mother asked him why he looked so tense. Did he look different? He tried to remember what his face felt like before he understood that the world was trying to kill him." His unique narration elevates this zombie story well above others of its kind.