It has been a little while since I wrote a short story review so it was about time for one of those again. For some reason, I just have not been reading very many short chapbooks recently. I decided to give one a try and started “Children of God” by Scott Crowder, another Smashwords book, and was surprised upon starting it that it was a zombie story and that it also took place in Minnesota.
Minnesota winters can be brutal, especially since the world has changed and civilization has become a thing of the past. There is one benefit to the extreme cold. The monsters that have overrun the world are frozen. Unfortunately, however, those are not the only monsters that stalk the wilderness.
Jack loves Ennis. The problem is that the band is travelling with a group of ultra-religious survivors led by Pastor Dave and his enforcer, Rabun Mauser, that believe the homosexuality is a sin against God and that they must all be killed. Jack finally gives into temptation and, at the urging of his friend Turtle Tim, confesses his love to Ennis. He is pleased to find that the feeling is mutual. Pleased, at least, until Mauser learns of the forbidden relationship. Mauser kills Turtle Tim and leaves Jack and Ennis tied up with a special execution in mind: a frozen zombie set to thaw by a bonfire as the group leaves them behind. Now Jack must try to escape in time to save his life as well as the one he loves or, failing that, get revenge on those who see him as evil.
“Children of God” is not a religious book although there is plenty of religious zealotry in the story. The world has changed but the people who live in it are slower to change. Even in the face of a new world order and the downfall of civilization, people are holding tight to their old beliefs and trying to force the world to fit their perspective even when it seems to no longer matter. Zombies have destroyed society as we know it but the cruelty that lies within all man makes the reader question if the humans might be more monstrous than the zombies. While “Children of God” is not a great story, it is interesting in its way and a good way to spend a little time. Crowder manages to entertain while providing a bit of a societal lesson in his own voice, and you cannot ask for much more than that.
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