Thirteen Roses

Thirteen Roses Book One: Before: An Apocalyptic Zombie Fable
by Michael Cairns

5/7 stars

I found this book highly entertaining. It was that type of read where I thought, “This is insane and I’m not sure where this is heading, but I am totally on board.”

Cairns has this ability to create worlds that are consistent, engrossing and creative. Reading his writing is like watching The Mummy in the best possible way. There is a tongue in cheek quality to his worlds that I just love. I read a lot of fiction and as such have a habit of guessing where the story is going to head. Generally, I am good at this game. But with Cairns I never know where I’m going to actually end up. Thirteen Roses is no exception. I knew there were going to be zombies, but the way in which we got to them was completely unexpected.

In particular, I found the supernatural component to be interesting. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that various pantheons have been plundered to provide a variety of characters. None of these characters are exactly how pop culture typically portrayed, highlighting Cairns’ perspective.

The story telling is done achronologically from several perspectives. Multiple pov is challenging to pull off. I have to say that while it does work in this context, it was not my favorite iteration of multiple view points.

I only have two real criticisms of the book. First, it took a long time for zombies to show up. I was promised zombies. I wanted zombies faster than I got them. Secondly, I was not a huge fan of the ending. This is the first in a series and as such did not wrap every plot point up at the end. I am fine with that. What I am not fine with is when the plot feels more like it’s at a pausing point than an ending point. Both of these criticisms are minor and didn’t significantly detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I would (and have) certainly recommend this book. It’s fun and tongue in cheek and a good lighter read.

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