David Dunwoody (ed.), Holiday of the Dead (Wild Wolf Publishing, 2011)
Sometimes themed collections get ridiculous. Holiday of the Dead is exactly what you think it is—zombie stories that focus on people on, well, holiday. It’s an amusing conceit, though Dunwoody probably carried it on a bit too long (thirty-eight stories?); this would have worked better at about half the length, as well as cutting out some of the chaff. For this is the other usual problem with anthologies—there’s a quality variance that seems almost unavoidable. I’ve always put it down to the editor having different tastes than the reader. Which explains it, but doesn’t lessen the problem.
To be fair, the good stories in here are very good. They’re usually the ones that take the holiday conceit and do something with it that’s just a little bit off; Vallon Jackson’s “Apocalypse Noo” is exemplary at this, Thomas Emson’s “Where Moth and Rust Destroy”, and of course one expects great things from contributors like Tony Burgess, David Moody, and Joe McKinney (and of course gets them). And I’ll go out of my way to say it—I’m not usually a fan of authors publishing their own stuff in anthologies they’re editing, but Dunwoody’s own contribution to this effort, “Roman Holiday”, just plain rocks, even if he did take the conceit straighter than I’d have liked.
In other words, it’s a typical short story collection: some good, some not so hot, and themed, so if you like the theme, you should like this collection (or most of it anyway); if you don’t, you probably won’t. But who doesn’t like vacations? And zombies? ***