Devils Unto Dust
In this alternative history the time after the Civil War has caused not only bad times to come to Daisy 'Willie's' family, but a mysterious plague turns people into 'shakes' or zombie-like creatures. Her town Glory, Texas is almost a ghost town. A wall is around the city, keeping the shakes out. After Willie's father robs a shake hunter, she sets out to find him. She hires two hunters and leaves Glory, but finds that the desert holds more dangers than the shakes.
What worked: This novel kept me on the edge of my seat! Right at the start, I was captivated by Willie and her small Texas town. Willie comes across as hard and tough, but it's her love of family that keeps her going. After the death of her mother, she's the maternal presence in her sibling's life. Tough as nails, deep down Willie's love of her family keeps her going. I really liked Willie and how she'll do just about anything for her family in order to survive.
The starkness of the Texas desert, along with the almost hopelessness of not only the terrain, but the survivors is shown in vivid details. The whole premise of an infectious disease causing people and animals to kill and devour others is horrific. The zombie premise has been before, but I really liked the True Grit feeling going on in this book. And I usually don't like westerns! The battered down towns that Willie and her guides travel down are filled with danger and other encounters.
This novel hints at possible romances, but the stakes are high for Willie. She must find her dead-beat father to protect her younger siblings from the wrath of those who demand the stolen money. Readers get glimpses of the humanity that Willie still clings to even at a terrible reveal later in the book.
Nail-biting alternative history meets The Walking Dead, this novel will haunt readers to the very end.
2. Willie is strong, courageous, and a total badass heroine