Peter Crombie is a typical, ordinary young teenage boy, or so it seems at first. The only interesting thing that ever happened to him was when he was seven and a boy of a similar age wearing a cape and sunglasses snuck out of his closet one night, smiled in apology and jumped out of his bedroom window. Of course his parents are a little odd - his mum turns curtains into dresses and his dad is a mad scientist. But other than that, nothing of interest ever happens to Peter. Until now...
Basically, and not to put too fine a point on it, Peter gets killed fatally dead in freak golf ball accident (which apparently happen far more often than you'd think...). But it's okay because since his dad's a mad scientist, he's able to bring Peter back from the dead. All's well that ends well, eh? Eh?? Of course not.
As all this happens in the first couple of chapters, it would be a bit daft if that were it. Which is a relief, as it isn't. It, I mean. Basically, Peter now has to deal with the fact that far from the wondrous miracle that being brought back from the dead is, he is, in fact, a zombie. Not the kind that eats human flesh - or brains, depending on your zombie affiliations - at least, not yet. Because it's clear that the decomposition process begun with Peter's death hasn't quite stopped simply because he's 'alive' again. Add to all this a ghost-vampire, a very lispy young girl who worships Peter, the continuing madness of his parents, and an ancient and powerful vampire called Lilith Von Worst who is planning something terrible, and you have the makings of a potentially very interesting tale.
Right, so... If you've got this for, you're probably wondering what kind of book this is. Clearly not especially 'serious', clearly not quite intended for adults. Correct. It's a kid's/YA novel, with a healthy dose of absurd humour that is actually, genuinely funny. There are some real laugh out loud lines in this story - at least, I laughed out loud on quite a few occasions, and the characters are well drawn. There's a small sense of Robert Rankin's off-key humour in the way the parents don't really seem to give a fig about Peter. It's wonderfully well drawn and even though it feels like it might be more for kids than Young Adults, some of the humour skates up to the risqué. The horror is comic book stuff, nothing that would give a kid nightmares and it's counterpointed by the humour anyway.
The story itself is a very quick read, perfect for that teenager in your life who might be showing an interest in the horrific, or even for reading to them at night. I guarantee both of you will be giggling like loons. If I have one criticism, it's that the ending feels very rushed. We get to the climax and suddenly, it's all over. I'd liked to have seen more of a drawn out battle, as it were. Other than that, though, it's a fun little romp and sits well alongside similar books I vaguely recall from my own formative, early teenage years. The cover design is great and for a so-called small publisher, it is easily the equal of books you'd find in Waterstones.
I really hope there's more from Peter and his friends, though as this was published in 2011, it's probably unlikely. Still, it's well worth giving it a go. I'd recommend it for anyone who has a child that likes horror or zombies, or even just absurd, daft comedy. Or, as Terry Pratchett's blurbs often said, for children and adults of all ages. Or something like that. What do I know, I have a memory like a sieve. Just get the book. It's great, even if you're not a kid.
PAUL M. FEENEY
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