Hey all, Dani here.
We all have certain themes, tropes, or story elements that generally turn us off from picking up certain books/movies/shows. For me, I am not a big mystery or thriller reader, though I am okay with watching those kind of stories. I also typically don’t reach for zombie stories. But I will say that as long as a story sounds interesting, I am totally willing to give it a try. And that is totally the case for the book I’m talking about today.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
Rating: 5 stars
Let’s start with the cover. I love how badass Jane looks holding her sickle and that is a cool and powerful stance. It gave me expectations for how the story within the covers was going to go. Thankfully the story matched up with beauty of the outside.
Jane has spirit. Her spunk was great, even though her sass quite regularly got her in trouble. But she did also go out of her way to help others, even ones who hadn’t been the nicest to her at school.
The alternate history laid out in this book was well done and so interesting. It really makes you look at the sanitization of history, how often we try and bury the unfair treatment and blatant racism of the past. Actually if we’re being honest many in society today don’t seem to recognize the racism of modern times. Based on the notes in the back of the book, there were industrial schools where Native children were sent and “civilized” based on the accepted white culture of the times. Many of the comments made by white characters towards people of color in this book made me cringe; it was pretty atrocious and despicable.
Jane handles it in stride, though. Sometimes she even uses their expectations against them, by pretending to be less intelligent or civilized. Even Jane’s classmates don’t expect Jane to be as smart as she is, though she can read and write, while most of them can’t.
But this was a pretty adventurous story, and I am so glad that I gave it a chance. The zombies, or shamblers as they are known in the book, are not really romanticized in any way. They are mindless savages and a group of them approaching can be a terrifying situation.