ZOM-B Clans, the eighth in this epic saga of what will be twelve books, does two things very well: it develops the origins backstory of the zombie epidemic including some details on the malevolent Mr Dowling and sinister ‘Owl-man,’ whilst raising the stakes and accelerating the pace as the series progresses towards its denouement.
The book begins with the closing moves of the battle at New Kirkham, a survivor settlement in the country. Shan is good at the theme of difficult moral choices, and B here must decide how to fight for Owl man’s remaining prisoners, and how to deal with the prisoner he and her friends take, the loathsome Dan-Dan. His repellent human villain makes a satisfying return and one of the joys of this series is wondering who, from previous instalments, will pop up next, and how. There is also a tense scene where the New Kirkham survivors debate on the fate of those who have remained ‘neutral’ in Kirkham’s fight with human and non-human monsters. Again, the best moral choice is not the easiest, and as with our most serious choices we have to sweat blood to get there.
Back at County Hall Dr Oystein has more revelations on this war with Mr Dowling and the undead, and some exposition on its origins. Events move to the prisoner exchange at Battersea power station, where a brutal act of treachery and another massive shock for B propels us on to pick up the next book.
As usual the writing is clear and the narrative is fast paced, whilst managing successfully to tackle some weighty moral themes.