July 2012

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

A promising lead just faded into a sleepy, muddy story for me.

After hearing so many promising things about the YA horror story The Forest of Hands and Teeth, I was so excited to get my hands on a copy. And let me tell you, the first few chapters were seriously scary—and so riveting, in fact, that I had a hard time putting the book down at all. But I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become so spoiled on my Ellen Datlow collections of pretty much perfect horror and fantasy, or if I’m just the (getting) old curmudgeon harsh critic my best friend says I am, but I just lost interest in the middle of the book.

The story starts out like Zombieland meets The Village, which is most excellent, right? It’s like zombies in puritan times. And at the beginning, it’s pretty awesome. But then our heroine’s life is suddenly out of whack when her mom becomes a zombie, her father’s already one, and her brother disowns her. Throw in two very lackluster love interests that you never give a damn about, a weird religious caste system inexplicably run by women in a culture that is still run by male heads of household (um, what?), and a bleak outlook without meaning (and constant self-absorption and long, boring drawn-out passages), and you’ve got this novel.