by Mina Gorey
Mace of the Apocalypse
By Daniel J Williams
Smashwords Edition: 2011
5 / 5 zedheads
Daniel J. Williams delivers a roundhouse kick with this first novel Mace of the Apocalypse.
Meet Mace and his partner Jade. That’s them, crouched behind a drug dealer’s house and skillfully introduced to us as somewhat more than just another sweet young couple facing an inconvenient zombie apocalypse. They’re hard-nosed bounty hunters used to taking down ugly characters and, ready or not, they’ve just smashed their way through the door. It’s just another day of cuffing criminals, busting each other’s balls, and bringing in bad guys while still handling them with admirable respect and maturity. Despite a rough upbringing, Mace is a caring guy who shows genuine respect for other people whether they're violent ex-cons skipping out on drug charges, the boy he plays big brother to, or the woman he loves and works with.
“Just another day” for Mace and Jade becomes one of reckoning as terrorists release a deadly neurotoxin that decimates the San Francisco Bay Area and spreads to the rest of the world, leaving hordes of furiously screaming walking corpses on a hunt for living flesh. Mace and a handful of survivors find themselves the sole possessors of an antidote and must produce enough to inoculate what’s left of the world while recreating their own small society at a local hospital, only to find themselves in a battle against their fellow man’s darker nature and the realization that the true threat to survival isn’t the living dead at all.
Mace’s breakneck pace progresses smoothly from scene to scene with relentless momentum and solid chapter construction. Working with the modern “fast zombie” mythos, Williams delivers an intelligently-crafted action tale with fleshed-out, sympathetic character development, a proactive cast, and some interesting surprises, such as his mature handling of mental health issues, gender roles, plausible science, medical references and geopolitical points. Williams done his homework here and the result is depth and a storyline both zombie fans and those simply looking for a fast, fun read will appreciate. There’s all the gore and bloodshed a zomlit fan could want and a solid build-up to an explosive climax that effectively establishes the sequel he’s working on. Respectful handling of gender roles offers a ride everyone will enjoy -- Williams’s “damsels” pull their menfolk out of distress as often as they’re pulled out themselves and are as adept with artillery or a good solid throat-punch as anyone else.
The scope of the cast of characters calls for a tight focus to keep straight until the story develops and roles are more clearly delineated. Williams’ writing itself could stand a more knowledgeable editor as small grammatical errors show up here and there. Most are obviously Autocorrect issues, but otherwise there’s very little negative to say here.
In sum, Mace of the Apocalypse is a pedal-to-the-metal read and gets Williams off to roaring start among zombie action-adventure wordsmiths.
Mina Gorey aka Em Gee is a deeply disturbed individual who tries to channel her more worrisome eccentricities into the analysis of quality zombie film and literature and too much time on Twitter (NSFW).
She was able to pick Greg Nicotero out of a lineup 15 years before the advent of The Walking Dead. She refers to George Romero as the Father of the Modern Zombie and will bore you to tears with why at the least provocation.
Her hobbies include gore-whoring, screaming zombie trivia at strangers at bus stops, and gleefully throwing stuffed mice for her cat. Her other hobbies include more mental stability than she cares to admit to, 11 years of indie webmastering several adult websites, and spending time with friends and family, whether they’re zombie fans or not.