Shakespeare Undead Paperback – Jun 8 2010
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About the Author
Lori Handeland is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Nightcreature Novels, The Phoenix Chronicles and Shakespeare Undead. She is the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA awards, a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance, and the Prism Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and a yellow lab named Ellwood.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.”
Hamlet (Act II, Scene II)
What was left of the man shambled into the dark alley, and I followed. I had little choice.
I am a chasseur, a hunter. What I hunt are those whose souls are controlled by another. I call them the tibonage.
You’d call them zombies.
Yes, they exist. All over the damn place.
Tonight they existed in Southwark, and it was my job to make sure they didn’t crack open someone’s head and make a feast of their brains. The only way to do that was to kill them first.
The tibonage dragged his feet through the muck, intent on something in the distance. This is the nature of the zombie. They are raised for a reason; they have a mission. Nothing will stop them from completing it.
“Halt!” I shouted. The tibonage didn’t even glance my way.
Definitely on a mission. Weren’t we all?
I hurried after, careful to remain far enough away that the zombie couldn’t spin and grab me. Considering they’re the walking dead, the tibonage are faster than one might think, and if prevented from completing their assignment they fight like baited bears.
As soon as I came within a sword’s length, I planted my feet and drew my weapon, wincing when the slick, slide sliced through the still air. The tibonage froze; then slowly he turned.
I should have cut off his head right then. If I had, I never would have seen his face in the silvery glow of the moon.
Instead, I whispered, “Chalmers?”
One of our servants. He’d died only last week.
Hair still well groomed, nails too, skin a wee bit gray but not terribly so. There wasn’t a hole in him anywhere there shouldn’t be. I’d have thought him alive, if it weren’t for the smell. I wrinkled my nose.
He was dead all right.
The zombie yanked me close, his teeth clacking together inches from my nose. I dropped the sword and shoved against his chest. Beneath my palms, his skin squirmed. A maggot peeked past the collar of his dusty doublet and winked.
“Erk!” I shrieked, and jerked my hands away. This only allowed the tibonage to pull me ever closer.
“Br-br-br,” he chanted, in between the clicking of teeth. “Mmmm,” he growled low. “Mmmm.”
He obviously hadn’t had his daily supply of br-br-br--
“Brains,” I snapped, annoyed at both myself for not killing him and him for being unable to articulate a simple word. “If you could say brains, you might actually possess enough of them to get some.”
Talking to a zombie was almost as foolish as wrestling one. I was strong, but zombies are stronger. I’m not sure why.
Perhaps there was something in the way they were raised that gave them certain powers. For instance, remaining unharmed through everything but decapitation and fire. That, combined with superior strength, meant the only advantage I had was that my brains could be used for something other than stuffing between my ears.
I lifted my knee, fast and hard. If his choked shriek was any indication, his balls now had an intimate acquaintance with his throat.
He let me go. He didn’t have much choice. He was on the ground, clutching his privates and keening. I rescued my sword, and then I returned Chalmers to God.
The man had always been overly tall, so even on his knees his head was nearly level with mine. As a result, when he burst into ashes I got a face full. Then I couldn’t see.
Which was the only excuse for what happened next. When the shuffle that sounded behind me was followed by a touch on my shoulder, I reacted. Two hands on the hilt of my sword I swung, and I connected.
Blood washed the ashes from my face.
“Oh,” I whispered. “N-n-n-no.”
I sounded like a zombie. But I wasn’t, and neither was the man who tumbled to the muck-strewn cobblestones. If he had been he’d be ashes, and I’d be on my way to dispatch the next murderous fiend.
Instead, I was the murderous fiend.
I fell to my knees as my victim’s eyes fluttered closed, and I sat there until the blood from the slice in his neck stopped flowing. Then I laid my palm against his chest, but the heart beneath no longer beat; his skin had already cooled.
Should I search out the authorities and attempt to explain?
A half laugh, half sob escaped my throat. “Excuse me, there is a dead man in the alley. But I didn’t mean to slit his throat, sirrah. Oh no, I meant to cut off his head.”
I lifted trembling fingers, meaning to rub at the pain in the center of my forehead, but when I saw the blood I let my arm drop back to my side.
“Who would have thought he could have so much blood in him?” I whispered. “Will I ever be able to wash my hands clean?”
The stranger was dead. The only way to bring him back would be to ferret out someone who could raise him. But then he would be a zombie—his soul in thrall to another. I doubted this man, whoever he was, would thank me for that.
No, better to leave him where he lay. At least his soul was already with God.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A brief summary: "Shakespeare Undead" is about a necromancer vampire who goes by the name Will Shakespeare and has, among other things, penned a good percentage of the world's great literature over his considerably long life. He abstains from drinking from humans and raising zombies, though he has done both in the past. Teamed up with Kate, a zombie-slaying machine, Will works at chopping the undead down to size all the while attempting to identify the necromancer responsible for the zombie invasion. He and Kate are also infatuated with each other, though she is married and he is, well, a vampire.
There were many things to enjoy in "Shakespeare Undead." The writing is above par, and while I didn't care for the shifting POVs, it didn't distract me from the story as much as I thought it might. I also really enjoyed Ms. Handeland's characterization of Shakespeare. He is drawn as a brilliant, though aloof character, often fantasizing about various plot ideas that come to him at the most inconvenient moment. The audience is supposed to infer that Shakespeare ultimately pens "The Wizard of Oz," "The Sixth Sense," "Star Wars," and perhaps one or two other works of consideration. This was cute the first time the reference was made, but by the time Shakespeare started envisioning Princess Leia telling a wise old sage that he was her "only hope," the joke had run its course.
Ms. Handeland also did a good job of creating sizzling chemistry between Will and Kate. I truly enjoyed the back-and-forth of their relationship.
I mentioned the shifting POVs, and while they didn't distract me, they didn't seem necessary by the end. Kate's first person narration didn't reveal anything that Will's third person did not. Likewise, if there was any mention as to what Will used as a blood substitution, as he didn't feed from humans, it wasn't made obvious. Yes, vamplore is ever-changing and subject to the author's personal mythology, but when the cornerstones of vamplore are dismissed, we need some explanation as to where the vampires who abstain from blood of any kind get what they need in order to survive. Like I said, this might have been touched upon in the book, but if it was, it was done so in such a way it was easy for the casual reader to overlook it.
I also caught myself thinking of Shakespeare in Love more than I should have. Obviously with any fictionalization of Shakespeare's life, we're going to see some references to his literary works, but from the stolen balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet," to the R&J lark/nightingale back and forth as dawn approached, to Kate masquerading as a boy both to hunt zombies and to act on stage, to the Silvia speech from "Two Gentleman of Verona," it seemed Ms. Handeland's best knowledge of Shakespeare came from the movie and not history books. I would have liked some hint at other Shakespearan insight than just from the film. Constantly reciting from Shakespeare's plays was also a little jarring when Ms. Handeland returned to normal dialogue. It was likely meant to be an intentional anachronism, but the shift was very obvious.
I will say I thought the last few lines of dialogue were brilliant, and I love where she left this story off.
Overall, this was a very entertaining read, one I gobbled up in less than 36 hours. It kept me interested, made me laugh, and while I did find fault with it upon reflecting, the plot spoke to the Shakespeare enthusiast in me, as well as the lover of a good paranormal romance.
William Shakespeare did not become famous on his own. No, he had some help. First, Will was a vampire and hung out with zombies. Well, this is not exactly true about the zombies. William could be seen with zombies but this is only because he is trying to find out who is raising the dead.
Second Will became enthralled with the beautiful and lovely Katherine Dymond. Katherine was known as the "Dark Lady of the Sonnets" Katherine also is a zombie hunter. Yep....you guessed it...Katherine made some heads roll for William.
Mash ups of classic novels or story are becoming quite popular. Author, Lori Handeland is taking her turn with her latest novel, Shakespeare Undead. I have to say that I have read a few mash up novels now and this is the first one that I really liked. Mrs. Handeland brought a fun and new twist to an old, classic story about the famous William Shakespeare. This book was dark in all the right ways. I knew Shakespeare was portrayed as a vampire in this book but I did not expect the twist about him also having another ability. Don't want to give anything away. This other ability make Shakespeare unique and stand out from all the other vampires currently out in the reading world.
My only issue I had with this book was that it was told through first person. Usually, I don't have a problem with this but I did ad first with this book. It started with a grown Will but then the story would flash back to when it seemed Will was a little boy. It took my till about a third of the way into the book to get everything straight. Once I did, I was able to sit back and enjoy. Shakespeare Undead will have you come alive for more!
To his regret, the vampire bard is attracted to his chasseur especially after he steals a kiss from his dark lady. They soon team up on solving a mystery that threatens the undead and the living of London as zombie gangbangers troll the streets; while Shakespeare also wonders if this time he gets the happy ending with the girl instead of another tragedy in five acts; as the last one he wanted he lost to a Roman and ultimately the asp.
Shakespeare Undead is a lighthearted frolic based on the concept that the Bard would have needed several lifetimes to produce the quantity and quality of his work; thus he must have been an immortal vampire. That twisted logic permeates the humorous spoofing story line. With references to the Elizabethan Era and to the masterpieces, Lori Handeland provides an amusing lampooning starting with the Dark Lady star of the sonnets trying to cut off the Bard's head; making one wonder just who the Fool is when he wants her with his other head. Over the top of Westminster Abbey, this is a fun Elizabethan fantasy spoof.
This is a funny story, one that will bring a laugh or two as Shakespeare and his Dark Lady battle zombies, flaunt convention and save the Queen in between romantic interludes. This is a great book to bring along to fill in those odd minutes waiting for appointments, of the car pool to gather, on a boring commute. It is silly and charming, just a great way to spend a few hours. Since Shakespeare seems to have ideas that finally come to fruition in the 20th century is it too much to hope that there will be more adventures of Will and his Kate?