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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book Review of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete, Plus Author Interview!

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete
Genre: Adult Fiction (Horror/Historical Fiction)
Date Published: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Imajin Books

Every family has its secrets… 

One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies? 

Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.

Lizze Borden is a person in our American history who never ceases to fascinate us. Mostly because we still don't know what happened. Did she do it? Didn't she do it? Who did? Why?  It's a crazy, sad mess. Well, some of these questions may now be answered for us. Zombies. Lizzie was protecting her self from Zombies. And why not? It makes about as much sense as anything else. I found the whole idea to be quite clever actually.

There was a lot of action through this book. Zombies are everywhere it seems. Lizzie is a quick study in the hunting of zombies, and seems to be a pretty smart and independent lady. I never really connected with Lizzie as a person. She was always at a distance to me, so it was hard to truly get absorbed in her story. Although, when you look at all her real life pictures, she gives me the impression of someone who is cold and distant there too, so maybe that is a fitting aspect after all.

 John bothered me. I think he's supposed to, but I don't understand his intentions. Did he lose interest? Was he an 1890's player? He cut Lizzie off so suddenly, I thought there was going to be a reason behind the behavior, but there was none given.

This was a wonderful idea for a book. I love when a book takes history's mysteries and fills in the blanks.

The ARC of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete was kindly provided to me by Bewitching Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

Chapter One

Q. You saw his face covered with blood?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you see his eyeball hanging out?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see the gashes where his face was laid open?
A. No sir.
—Lizzie Borden at inquest, August 9-11, 1892, Fall River Courtroom

August 4, 1892
Lizzie Borden drained the rest of her tea, set down her cup, and listened to the sound of furniture moving upstairs. My, my, for only ten o’clock in the morning my stepmother is certainly energetic. Housecleaning, already?
For a moment, Lizzie forgot her plans to go shopping downtown. THUMP. There it went again. It sounded like her stepmother was rearranging the whole room. She paused at the bottom stair, her concern growing, when she heard another thump and then, the oddest of sounds—a moan. Uh-oh. What was that? Did she hurt herself?
“Mrs. Borden?” Lizzie called. “Are you all right?”
No answer.
She wondered if her stepmother had taken ill, yet the shuffling, moving, and other unusual noises continued. Lizzie hurried up the stairs and paused outside the partially opened door. The strange moans coming from the room sent a shiver up her back.
Lizzie pushed the door open wider and stared. Mrs. Abby Durfee Borden stood in front of the bureau mirror, clawing at her reflected image. And what a horrid image it was. The sixty-seven-year-old woman’s hair looked like it had never been combed and stuck out like porcupine quills. Her usually spotless housedress appeared wrinkled and torn. Yet, that wasn’t the worst. Dark red spots—Blood, Lizzie’s mind whispered—dotted the floor and streaked the sides of the older woman’s dress and sleeves.
Lizzie gazed about the room in alarm. The tips of Father’s slippers peeking out from beneath the bed also glistened with the same viscous red liquid. All that blood! What happened here? What happened?
She gasped, which got the attention of Mrs. Borden, who jerked her head and growled. Lizzie choked back a cry of alarm. Abby’s square, plain face now appeared twisted and ashen gray. Her eyes, once bright with interest, stared from under a milky covering as if she had cataracts. She resembled a female version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Another growl and a moan, and the older woman lunged, arms rigid, her stubby hands held out like claws.
“Mrs. Borden, Abby!” Lizzie yelled and stumbled backward as fast as she could. “Abby, do you hear me?”
Her stepmother shuffled forward, her steps slow but steady. She showed no emotion or sense of recognition. The only utterances she made were those strange low moans.
Lizzie moved back even further, trying to keep some distance between her and Mrs. Borden’s grasping fingers. Then her foot hit something. Lizzie quickly glanced down at the silver hairbrush that had fallen to the floor. Too late, she realized her error.
“No!” Lizzie cried out at the strange feeling of her stepmother’s clammy, cold hand around her wrist. “Abby, what happened? What’s wrong with you?”
Mrs. Borden said nothing and moved in closer. Her mouth opened and closed, revealing bloodstained teeth.
“No! Stay away!” Lizzie yelled. “Stop!”
She didn’t. Instead, Mrs. Borden scratched and clawed at her. Lizzie leaned back, barely escaping the snap of the madwoman’s teeth at her neck.
“Mrs. Bor—Abby! No, no! Stop!”
Lizzie’s slight advantage of a few inches in height offered no protection against her shorter stepmother’s almost demonic and inhuman strength. The older woman bit and snapped like a rabid dog. Lizzie struggled to fight her off, and shoved her away, yet Mrs. Borden attacked again and again, her hands grabbing, her teeth seeking the tender flesh covered by Lizzie’s long, full sleeves.
The two of them grappled and wrestled, bumping into the bedposts and banging into furniture. Lizzie yelped each time her soft flesh hit something hard. She felt her strength wane as the  crazed woman’s gnarled hands clawed at her. Lizzie wondered how much more she could endure.
Lizzie’s cries for help came out hoarse and weak. “Em-Emma!” She tried again. “Help! Help me!” She knew Emma had come in late last night from her trip out of town. But if Emma already woke and went downstairs, will she even hear me?
Lizzie reeled back, her panic growing as her spine pressed against the fireplace. She pushed and fought in an attempt to keep this monster away, yet Mrs. Borden’s ugly face and snapping teeth edged closer and closer.
Then Lizzie spotted it: the worn hatchet Father had left behind after he’d last brought in the newly chopped wood. No, no! Her mind filled with  horror,  but  when  her  stepmother  came  at  her  again,  Lizzie whispered a prayer for forgiveness and grabbed the handle. She lifted the hatchet high overhead and swung as hard as she could. It hit her stepmother’s skull with a sickening thud.
As impossible as it seemed, Mrs. Borden snarled and continued her attack.
Lizzie hit her again, and again, and again. The blows raked her stepmother’s face and scraped deep furrows into tender flesh. The metal hatchet head pounded her stepmother’s shoulders and arms, the bones giving way with sickening crunches. Mrs. Borden’s broken arms dangled, hanging limp and ugly at her sides… and yet, dear God, yet she continued her attack.
With the last bit of her strength, Lizzie raised the hatchet again and brought it down on Mrs. Borden’s head. Only then did her stepmother crumple and fall into a pile at Lizzie’s feet.
It took a few minutes for Lizzie to comprehend the horrible scene. It didn’t seem real, but it was. With a cry, she threw the bloodied hatchet aside. She gagged as the weapon caught in the braided artificial hairpiece hanging from the back of Mrs. Borden’s gore-encrusted scalp.
Retching, Lizzie ran to the other side of the bed, bent over, and vomited into the chamber pot. She crossed the room and leaned against the wall, her shoulders shaking with each heart-rending sob.
Her hands trembled so hard she could barely hold them still, but she managed to cover her eyes in a feeble attempt to block out the carnage. It didn’t stop the horrific images that flashed in her mind, or the many questions. And it certainly did nothing for the soul-crushing guilt that filled her.

Why? she cried. Why? Dear God, what have I done? What have I done?

How long have you been writing?
A favorite baby photo of mine shows me with a newspaper in front of me and a pencil behind my ear, suggesting it’s been since before I could walk. Actually I’ve been writing a little less time than that. But the photo is prophetic in that I also became a newspaper reporter.

What inspired you to write Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter?
I always was intrigued by Lizzie Borden and realized that the murders could be viewed in another way, especially once I studied the autopsy records and photos. Why else would the victims have been so viciously hit in the head—unless they’d become zombies?

What was the weirdest thing you had to Google while doing research?
Probably axe murders. I wondered how prolific they were…

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter would make a great film. Would you want to turn your book into a movie?
I agree it would! You have a heroine everyone knows, or thinks they know, action, adventure, horror and family drama. Oh, and maybe a touch of romance. All the ingredients for a great movie!

Which of your characters do you relate to most and why?
I felt rather sorry for Lizzie’s sister, Emma. She stands by her sister throughout her ordeal, but is often overlooked and misunderstood, I think. In real life, it had to be terrible to go from a private life to being thrust into the public and endure the endless speculations on what really happened. I like Lizzie’s take charge attitude in the book, however. She does what’s needed to be done.

What is a secret about you that nobody else knows?
Then it wouldn’t be a secret, right? ☺

What book have you read too many times to count?
I have re-read Stephen King’s Salem Lot and Bram Stoker’s Dracula quite a few times. I still like to pick them up once in a while.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Don’t quit. 

If you could hop into the life of any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I think it would be interesting to step into the shoes of someone living in Fall River at the time of the Borden murders and see firsthand what really went on. It could be a real eye-opener.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That history isn’t as boring as you might think. Maybe it’s the difference between looking things up you want to learn more about versus being fed boring facts in school. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like building and creating dollhouses and miniatures. It’s my creative and artistic outlet. I also write how-to books on them.
Christine (C.A.) Verstraete enjoys putting a bit of a “scare” in her writing. He stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Mystery Weekly, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime, Siren’s Call Magazine, and more. She also is the author of books on dollhouses and a YA novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie.

Her latest novel is Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter.

To learn more about C.A. Verstraete and her books, visit her website & blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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1 comment :

  1. Thanks for hosting me and the review! Are you putting the review on Amazon and Goodreads too? :)


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