I Saw Zombies Eating Santa ClausBy S.G. Browne (Gallery Books; 2012)

I may be sick of zombies, but I do enjoy twisted holiday stories, and anyway that title was just too outrageous to pass up! This book is a sequel to S.G Browne’s comedic zombie epic BREATHERS; I haven’t read that novel, yet I SAW ZOMBIES EATING SANTA CLAUS works well enough as a standalone narrative, being funny, gory and even touching, just as you’d expect from a Christmas-themed zombie mash.

Andy is a personable and kind-hearted zombie who escapes from an Oregon research facility around Christmastime. To throw off the researchers on his tail Andy dons a Santa Claus costume, which goes well with his white beard, and takes on unexpected significance when he encounters a “breather” girl named Annie. As it happens, Andy’s own deceased daughter was named Annie, which explains why he develops such a close bond with breather Annie. The latter is stuck with a neglectful mother who ignores Christmas, and all Annie truly wants is for her ma to pay her more attention. Against his better instincts Andy, playing up his Santa Claus guise, agrees to see what he can do.

Some gory action follows as Andy, together with some newfound zombie companions, endeavors to break into the research facility where he was incarcerated and free his zombified pals still locked inside. But the researchers pursuing Andy haven’t given up their chase, and that promise he made to Annie still lingers: how can Andy possibly make Annie’s mother become more attentive?

I enjoyed this book, even if zombie fiction has, as far as I’m concerned, officially been done to death. I’m also not terribly fond of the type of overtly comedic Christopher Moore-esque writing that suffuses this novel. What redeemed it for me was the touching dynamic between the protagonist and sweet little Annie, which is quite moving almost in spite of itself. Ho, ho, ho!