After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
I listened to the first book in this series about eighteen months ago, and when my book club requirement was to read a YA historical novel, I decided it was a perfect time to listen to the sequel. Yes, zombies aren’t really part of history, but the book is categorized as US Civil War Period Historical Fiction – so that works for me.
With Bahni Turpin being such a fantastic narrator of the first book, Dread Nation, I was thrilled she returned for the sequel. Jane is just as snarky as ever, which I totally enjoy, and she’s still killing shamblers (zombies). Alternating POVs between Jane and Katherine allow the reader to gain better insight into Katherine’s character this go around, and she nearly steals some scenes. The unlikely friendship between them is one of the highlights of the story for me. Separated for a portion of the book, each endures trials and tribulations of their own before reunited to search for their safe haven and Jane’s mother.
At over 500 pages (14.5 hour audiobook), this is a long read, and I struggled with pacing in the middle. Jane is on a mission, with good reason, but her obsession ventures into repetitive territory. Once past that, the ending moves along pretty quickly and delivers a satisfying conclusion fitting for these characters.
If you’re a zombie fan, I recommend reading this duology that offers a different take on the genre in a historical setting.