Title: Ashes to Ashes
Author: Joseph Mulak
Release date: September 17th, 2014
I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but over the last 5 or so years, I’ve really moved away from reading, watching and generally enjoying zombie fiction. I think, personally, it has been because of the oversaturation that occurred once The Walking Dead took off. I read all the comics, and watched the show religiously up until about season 5 or 6 as well as the first season of Fear the Walking Dead, and when it all became more of the same and repetitive, I drifted away and really found it hard to get back into the zombie fiction genre.
There’s been a few here and there since that I really enjoyed and that made me excited to dive back in, but for the most part I’ve stayed away. Saying that, there’s two rules I typically follow when I want to read a book. If it sound interesting, I’ll give it a go. And if it’s a book from a fellow Canuck, I’ll definitely give it ago.
I connected with Joseph Mulak a few years ago, but it was only recently that I snagged his novel ‘Ashes to Ashes.’ I went in with an open mind, unsure of what exactly I’d be reading, but hoping Mulak added a unique twist. And you know what? He did.
What I liked: The story follows down on his luck, Todd. A former addict who is estranged from his wife and kids, hated by his parents and brother and at the end of his rope. So, one night he decides it’s the end, he’ll go out somewhere where nobody is and jump off of a bridge. But, it’s at this location, where he finds somebody else and the world is upended. The person he finds is taking a new drug, ‘Ash,’ which quickly changes people into what can only be described as a zombie.
From here, Todd partners with his brother, Mitch and they try to get their families to safety. Mulak does a great job of filling this with family tension, snarky sarcasm and some hope for second chances. This though, is a zombie book, so we get a lot of action, emotional deaths and new characters added to the mix.
It was interesting watching Todd, who throughout really struggles with him still being alive and his desire just to end it all, while also wanting to change his life and be there for his kids. At the same time, it was frustrating watching how Todd and Mitch simply couldn’t put any of their past differences behind them in the face of the zombie apocalypse. Mulak really did a fantastic job keeping these characters grounded and real.
The ending was great and we get a solid epilogue that shows Mulak could return to this world if he wanted too, but that also closed this chapter and made for a solid stand alone.
What I didn’t like: Straight up – there was some really odd decisions made by our characters. Mitch is a doctor, so when Todd calls him for help with our first oddity, Mitch doesn’t act at all like a doctor and then brings the guy to his own house. Then, to make things odder, they leave Mitch’s pregnant wife behind at the house with this oddity. I won’t get into it more, because without those strange decisions we wouldn’t get some truly hard scenes later on, but it will make your head scratch.
Why you should buy this: This is fast-paced, crisp story telling and Mulak tells it with real storytelling. What I mean by that, is there isn’t any crazy, unrealistic ‘answer’ that some how works and saves everyone. We get some solid police interactions and some really startling turn of events.
This was a fun one and again, one I’m glad to have dove into and read.