Admit it. When you hear the title Mountain Dead, you immediately start thinking of a zombie Deliverance, don't you? As S.G. Browne writes in his introduction to Appalachian Undead (to which this is a companion), there is a definite "stereotype of the region as poor and desolate and culturally backward" that fiction has done as much to perpetuate as to dispel.
Some of the stories in both collections are far removed from that stereotype, but others absolutely wallow in it - sometimes to the point of self-parody. Faced with the difficult task of playing to reader expectations, while still being respectful to the inhabitants of the region - living, dead, and undead - editors Eugene Johnson and Jason Sizemore have done a good job of collecting stories from both ends of the spectrum.
As for the zombies themselves, they run the full gamut from mindless shuffling to fast-moving aggression, and everything in between.
'Unto the Lord a New Song' by Geoffrey Girard seemed like an interesting story with lots of potential, but lost me with its stream-of-consciousness narrative and lack of structure; and 'Let Me Come In' by Lesley Conner was a fun (and twisted) take on the traditional fairy tale.
For the most part, these are simple horror stories, with no attempt at social commentary or heavy-handed messaging, and that's just fine with me. Nothing really wowed me to the point where I felt compelled to rush out and read everything a contributor has written, but I definitely came away entertained.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins