“They’re not chatty. These zombies are not very loquacious. They don’t speak much. They hardly speak at all, because they don’t have any brains. One zombie is not a threat because they are just kind of shambling. But they always attack in hoards. […] No zombie story is ever told from from the point of view of the zombie. Unlike Vampire stories, unlike Frankenstein, unlike any other monster you care to name. They’re not narrative—they don’t have language; it impedes one when telling the story” — Margaret Atwood
Don’t worry Margaret, Corey Redekop has that covered. Husk is told from the point of view of the zombie, Sheldon Funk to be specific. I wanted to read Husk because I’d heard so much about Corey Redekop‘s first novel, Shelf Monkey.
It is one thing to die, alone and confused, trapped with your pants down around your ankles in the filthiest bus restroom in existence. It’s quite another thing to wake up during the autopsy, attack the coroner, and flee into the wintry streets of Toronto.
It’s not like Sheldon Funk didn’t have enough on his plate. His last audition, for the reality television series House Bingo, had gone disastrously wrong. His mother was in the late stages of dementia. His savings were depleted, his agent couldn’t care less, and his boyfriend was little more than a nice set of abs. Now, Sheldon also has to contend with decomposition, the scent of the open grave, and an unending appetite for human flesh. Plus another audition in the morning.
For Sheldon to survive his death without literally falling apart at the seams, he has to find a way to balance family, career, and cannibalism, which would be a lot easier if he could stop eating hoboes. Husk, the story of the everyzombie.
From the publisher, ECW Press
The novel is very much rooted in pop culture and took me a while to get into it. Had I not been curious about the execution of the book, I’m not sure I would have continued reading; pop culture fiction is not really my bag.
We are introduced to Sheldon when he wakes up in the morgue, completely disoriented and accidentally bites/kills the coroner. He somehow stumbles home and comes to terms with the fact he is dead, and then proceeds to teach himself to speak —which means he has to teach himself to breath regularly. This first 100 pages of the novel are kind of repetitive but Corey Redekop’s writing style is wry and amusing. Redekop spends a great deal of time describing the irony of learning to talk when one can’t breath, how Sheldon refuses to eat his cat but will consume hoboes willy-nilly, and exactly how he McGyver’s a chopping block to replace his missing ribcage.
The concept itself is unique—there are very few zombie narratives—and Sheldon soon becomes the talk of the town, ironically starring in a slasher flick before announcing himself to the world. But even Sheldon is unsure why he is the only zombie with cognitive skills, at least the only one to catch media attention.
While I persevered through the set up, once Sheldon was a part of regular society, I began to wonder what the point was. It took the novel more than halfway to introduce an actual villain, with very little foreshadow or indication that there was something greater to be concerned about (although in one sense, that is the point of a secret villain, it just doesn’t make for a very compelling read).
Of course, I can’t discuss the ending lest I give anything away. Husk is certainly distinctive and it has a satisfying conclusion, but overall just didn’t work for me.
Full disclosure: I received the book for review from the publisher as part of their review program for book bloggers. This is no way affected my review.